Chapter 5: Biological and Physiological explanations of Deviance
It is difficult to explain some kinds of behaviour, especially gender bending or delusional as they are
based on genetics.
Positivism (scientism): the belief that natural science should be adapted to the study of human being.
They assume that knowledge can be discovered through sensory experience, observation and experiment.
In which experiments undergo a control group, sampling and analysis. When studies took place with
rocks, insects and plants it led to new discovery that would NOT have been discovered through classical
theory : craziness, self-injurious compulsions or extreme impulsiveness.
Classical thinkers never used empirical data in their research before or they never used it as it should have
been constructed. However overtime, with rise to criminology and understanding deviance, they began
adopting a paradigm shift, which gave better understanding of human nature and human behaviour. It
achieved dominant status in the late 19-20 century, when it was challenged with other paradigms. Some
classical thinkers disagree with positivism, vice versa. However, it was believed that there was a
biological explanation for how an individual acted and forced determined their action. Free will was an
5.1: crimes and punishment in Erewhon
Social Darwinism: English philosopher Herbert Spencer coined the phrase “ survival of the fittest ‘’
arguing that every field reflected a pattern of development from lower to higher, less complex to complex
and from inferior to superior. He took from Darwin theory of natural selection stating that the fit
competitor wins the better chance of survival and procreates. Those who believe in social Darwinism,
believe that living organism whether human, plants or animals are best able to adapt in a situation in
which particular set of living conditions were most favourable. Those who were rich and powerful in
society were best fit than compared to those who were not at all. They had the health, intelligence and
good moral qualities to make them fit.
Mendel and the Discovery of Genetic Inheritance: On discovering genetic principles with plant seeds, it
was often mistaken that environment played no role in determining an individual trait. Hitler used the idea
of the unfit to prosecute the Jews and those who he claimed to be unfit.
Born Criminal Theory: idea that criminality was not only marked but also was evident in a person’s
appearance was common in antiquity. Criminal anthropology promised the possibility of using physical
appearance as a way to indentify actual and potential criminals: facial features, skull size and body shape.
Science than scoped in and started looking at genes, blood sugar counts and neurochemical markers.
However, before any of this took place, criminality was looked at through physiognomy, phrenology,
craniometry, atavism and degeneracy.
Physiognomy: science of judging characters based on their feature. If a person looked
like a bull, they would be stubborn. It appealed in the late 18-19 century, when John
Casper Lavater produced a detailed four-volume map of the human face with specific
structures and personality traits.
Phrenology: popular in the mid 19 century, based on the theory that function of