Crime in Biological, Social, and Moral Contexts

Crime in Biological, Social, and Moral Contexts

Crime in Biological, Social, and Moral Contexts

Crime in Biological, Social, and Moral Contexts

Synopsis

The diversity and richness of biosocial theory is illustrated in this volume which introduces numerous views on the biological and social causes of criminality and pro/antisociality. Contributors outline basic assumptions of the biosocial perspective; examine various evolutionary, genetic, and neurochemical aspects of criminality; and then stretch existing knowledge to new theoretical limits. This volume is intended to alert social scientists, particularly criminologists, of recent developments in this field.

Excerpt

I can remember an incident that occurred more than a decade ago when I was putting together the first edition of my Criminology text. I had passed around an outline to my fellow faculty members, which mentioned a chapter on biological and psychological theories of criminal behavior. One colleague came to my office and heatedly warned me against using this material in a college text. Even suggesting a biological basis to crime was politically incorrect and jeopardized my entire career: this chapter would cause my colleagues to see me as a right-wing zealot. I replied that although I certainly did not consider myself a "biocriminologist," it was an emerging and important area of study not to be ignored. Later that day another colleague came to see me and questioned my inclusion of a chapter discussing Marxist and critical criminology, claiming that such material would make me look like a "Commie!" Sometimes you just can't win. Fortunately I decided to ignore their attempts at improving my political outlook and kept both chapters. the book is now going into its fourth edition.

Looking back, it seems ironic that biosocial criminology was, and to some degree still is, a "politically sensitive" issue. If biosocial theorists can be faulted it is because they have attempted to "depoliticize" the study of criminal behavior by focusing on quantifiable human traits while giving less attention to the political spectrum in which they occur. Yet, when a book appears that treats biosocial theory seriously, such asWilson and Herrnstein's Crime and Human Nature in 1985, it is denounced by critics more because of its "political danger" than any erroneous or inaccurate content. They argue that biosocial theory is essentially racially and class biased . . .

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