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Chapter 1

SOC*2700 Chapter 1

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SOC 2700
C Yule

Monday, Jan 14, 2012 Chapter 1: Theory and Crime - this book focuses on theories that are used to explain the facts - a theory is part of an explanation - in history, there are 2 basic types of theories of crime, one relies on spiritual explana- tions, the other relies on natural explanations Spiritual Explanations - in the Middle Ages in Europe, crime was a largely private affair in which the victim or the victim’s family obtained revenge by inflicting a similar or greater harm on the offend- er or the offender’s family - this had a tendency to start blood feuds as each side inflicted greater harm - a method was created by which God could indicate who was innocent and who was guilty: 1. Trial by battle - both parties would swear to the truth of their claims in the dispute, then they or their designated representatives, would fight each other - God would give victory to the righteous person, defeating the one who had just sworn a false oath - problem was that great warriors and those who could hire them could commit as many crimes as they wanted 2. Trial by ordeal - the accused was subjected to difficult and painful tests, form which an innocent person would emerge unharmed and a guilty person would die a painful death 3. Compurgation - the accused gather together a group of 12 reputable people who would swear that he or she was innocent - idea was that no one would lie under oath for fear of being punished by God - the modern prison system also originated in association with a spiritual explanation - isolated criminals in cells and gave them only the Bible to read and some manual labour to perform - the term penitentiary was used to describe this, a place for penitents who were sorry for their sins Natural Explanations - make use of objects and events in the material world to explain Scientific Theories Monday, Jan 14, 2012 - one kind of natural explanation - they make statements about the relationships between observable phenomena - a key characteristic of scientific theories is that they can be falsified - falsification involved systematically observing the relationships described in the theor
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