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Chapter 2

Shoemaker – The Classical School (Chapter 2)

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Department
Sociology
Course
SOC 222
Professor
Owen Gallupe
Semester
Winter

Description
Shoemaker – The Classical School: Issues of Choice and Reasoning HISTORICAL OVERVIEW ­ The classical school is characterized by a belief in the influence of free will on the  commission of behaviour, as well as the use of punishment to proportionately  deter criminality ­ Contemporary systems have been modified to include a variety of mitigating  circumstances which are thought to reduce the impact of “free will” on behaviour o Common mitigating factors of criminal responsibility – person’s age  o Connection between reasoning culpability and age ­ Historical accounts maintain in the early 19th century that public perceptions of  young offender began to accept the notion of reduced criminal responsibility  because of age o Age qualifications for punishment were recognized in the laws of colonies ­ First third of the 19th century – reform efforts make in institutional structures that  focused on youthful offenders   ­ Throughout 20th century, a number of legal and social reforms ultimately lead to  the development of a separate court process for juveniles – first in Chicago,  Illinois, 1899 o However, reform efforts were not accepted by all o Assumption that free will is the basic cause of behaviour Assumptions ­ All people act according to the exercise of free will and reasoning ­ Individuals act in order to accomplish some desired goal – behaving according to  rational considerations of the consequences, both beneficial and harmful ­ Key concepts o Free will  ▯individual responsibility for behaviour – accountable by society   as they view the behaviour as a result of conscious, calculating thought o Rational choice  ▯the method of reaching a decision to commit behaviour –   idea that people act according to a reasoned, logical set of planned  calculations Discussion ­ Cesare Beccaria, wrote On Crimes and Punishments (1963) ­ According to Beccaria, people do what they do because they derive pleasure from  their acts, and they voluntarily choose to commit them o Criminal behaviour is motivated by the same principles as noncriminal  behaviour  ▯the gratification of pleasure and avoidance of pain ­ Important characteristic of the Classical School  ▯all people possess the ability to  reason and to act on their own volition o Challenged by contemporary social science  ▯patterns of thought and  action are influenced by various environmental and individual factors Evaluation ­ One reason for the inability to hold all people accountable for their actions –  complexity and variability in motivation o How much/what kinds of pleasure and pain would motivate people? ­ Revisions made to incorporate elements of mitigating circumstances and other  conditions that would reduce capacity to reason and be held fully responsible for  their actions ­ Jeremy Bentham, philosopher and “neoclassical” theorist o Believed in the essential freedom of people to chart the course of their 
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