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Biological Explanations of Crime and Deviance - Literature review Example

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From the paper "Biological Explanations of Crime and Deviance" it is clear that the biological theory did not develop measurable and testable variables. It also ignored many of the social and environmental factors that contribute to the cause of crime…
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Biological Explanations of Crime and Deviance
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Download file to see previous pages Prior to the nineteenth-century criminal behaviour and deviance was explained using the classical theory. The classical tradition was more humanistic in its approach as it explained that humans carry out certain actions through their own free will. This theory is closely related to the ideas of Jeremy Bentham and Cesare Beccaria. According to Bentham’s ideas, criminal acts are designed to satisfy either of two masters that rule mankind: pleasure and pain (Gottfredson and Hirschi 5). According to Bentham, the theory of crime composed of four elements namely physical, religious, moral and political sanctions. This theory pointed to the consequences of committing the acts and criminals were somewhat guided or overshadowed by the different sanctions.
The biological explanation is more scientific in its outlook. Cesare Lombroso is credited to be the father of biological positivism. He was an Italian doctor employed in the penal system in the latter part of the nineteenth century. Positivism relates to the application of scientific methods to the social aspect of life. This differentiates the biological theory from classical theory. The scientific aspect is what led to the new field of research on criminal anthropology.
One of Lombroso’s biological explanations was that many criminals have an inherent gene that determines their criminality. His theory of atavism explains that criminals are akin to an ancestral form of life, “a throwback to an earlier stage of human evolution” (Lombroso 32). According to his theory, criminals, when compared to other individuals in society, are more likely to have crooked noses, sloping foreheads, large ears, protruding jaws, and dark skins, ears, and eyes ( 9). His theory was somewhat similar to the theory of phrenology which was developed by physician and anatomist Franz Gall who claimed that a relationship existed between a human’s mental attributes and the shape and size of his head. This description of criminals according to Lombroso indicates racial prejudices to a large extent. This could be seen as unscientific as there is no great volume of data and statistics to verify this claim. If this description was accurate it would be easy for crime fighters to identify criminals. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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