The Positive School of criminology focused on explaining and understanding social behavior of criminals. The members of this school used the approach to the study of crime, which became known as criminology. Positivists saw behavior as determined by its biological, psychological, and social traits (Williams & McShane, 2009). This paper will compare and contrast the Biology/Biosocial theory of the Positive School theory of crime and the Classical School theory of crime. Positive School The Positive School began around the late nineteenth century.
Auguste Comte, a French philosopher and social scientist from the nineteenth-century, did the majority of the system analysis that constitutes sociological positivism today (Williams & McShane, 2009). Cesare Lombroso, who is the father of modern criminology, conducted studies in which he was trying to figure out what causes a person to be criminal. From this study, Lombroso coined the term atavism to suggest that criminality was the result of primitive urges that, in modern-day human throwbacks, survived the evolutionary process (Schmalleger, 2006).
These studies led to the biological theory of the Positive School. Criminal behavior results from a complex combination of social and biological factors. Social factors are reflection of environmental sources of influence, like socioeconomic status. Biological factors are more inclusive, consisting of physiological, biochemical, neurological, and genetic factors. Genetic factors refer to biological factors inherited by individuals. Social factors, on the other hand, cannot be. Until recently, the majority of criminological research focused solely on social ontributors, either minimizing or negating the importance of genetic and biological influences on criminal behavior. In the past 15 years, however, a large body of evidence has accumulated that suggests that the etiology of criminal behavior may be better understood when genetic and biological factors are also taken into account. Evidence for the role of genetic factors in the etiology of criminal behavior carries the assumption that biological factors mediate this relationship. Twin studies support the contention that a heritable trait may increase risk for criminal behavior.
Twin studies compare the rate of criminal behavior of twins genetically identical or monozygotic twins (MZ) with twins who are not, or dizygotic twins (DZ) to assess the role of genetic and environmental influences. To the extent that the similarity observed in MZ twins is greater than that in DZ twins, implications of genetic influence may be present. Variability in criteria for criminal behavior and sample composition does not appear to change the genetic effect, an outcome that suggests that criminal behavior and the correlation of antisocial behavior (e. g. antisocial symptom counts, conduct disorder) mediation may be done genetically.
Some early positivistic approaches encompassed explanations of both the individual behavior and rates of behavior in society (Williams & McShane, 2009). Sarnoff Mednick’s work, referred to as a biosocial theory, is an example of the orientation of modern biological theorists. With the biosocial theory, the biological characteristic of an individual is only one part in the equation of behavior. The other components are physical and social environment. Mednick thought that individuals should learn from his or her family and with peer groups to learn how to control the urge for criminal behavior and living an antisocial life. C.
R. Jeffery stated in his book Advances in Criminological theory that the perspective of the biosocial theory is that sociological, psychological, and biological characteristics should be seen as interacting together in a systems model to produce criminal behavior. According to Schmalleger 2006, the Positive School is built-upon two principles. The first principles is that the belief that human behavior is determined not by the exercise of free choice but by the causative factors beyond the control of the individual. The second principle is that the application of scientific techniques to the study of crime and criminology.
The Positive School believes that humans live in a world in which cause and effect operate, and social problems can be remedied by means of a systematic study of human behavior (Williams & McShane, 2009). Members of this school believe that punishment should be for treatment and not punishment. Positivism attempts to explain the cause of crime and offers a basis for rehabilitating criminals and using the indeterminate sentence. The Classical School has different views. The Classical School The Classical School is the basis of our legal system.
The classical view provides the basis for definite determinate sentences, unlike the Positive School. The Classical school views human behavior as based on free will. Cesare Beccaria’s An Essay on Crimes and Punishment states that laws should be drawn precisely and matched to punishment intended to be applied equally to all classes of men (Abadinsky, 2009). This was the beginning of giving specific penalties for specific crimes. With specific punishment for specific crimes, this made the administration of justice rational. Classical School supporters thought that punishment is justified because offenders are rational and endowed by free will.
By having free will, each individual has the ability to distinguish and choose between right and wrong and between being law-abiding and criminal. The Classical School’s explanation for human behavior was hedonism. Hedonism, coined by Jeremy Bentham, is the theory in which people are assumed to automatically attempt to maximize pleasure and minimize pain (Williams & McShane, 2009). The hedonism theory became the foundation for the concept of deterrence. Basically, individuals were expected to weigh his or her consequences of their behavior before acting to maximize their pleasure and minimize pain.
Although the Classical School did not give rise to criminal behavior theories, hedonism was a theory of human nature and incorporated into the rationale for building the legal structures (Williams & McShane, 2009). The view of punishment within the Classical School is that it should be for deterrence, not rehabilitation. Along with deterrence, certainty and promptness are additional requirements. Certainty comprises of making sure that punishment happens for criminal acts, forcing individuals to not want to commit a crime.
Severity comprises of the amount of pain that the system inflicts on the individual. Another aspect of this school is the fact that due process of law is present. Every individual is thought to be equal within the society. It is irrational for a society to insist that criminal behavior is simply a matter of free will. The School is against corporal punishment on the basis that no citizen has the right to take the life of another individual. Conclusion The Positive School and the Classical School theories for the causation of crime both have set the basics for the foundation of criminology.
The Positive School uses scientific treatment to help cure offenders versus the Classical School that has a focus on the personal rights of an individual. The two schools main difference is their views on the purpose of sentencing. The Classical School believes that punishment should be used for deterrence and the sentences should be determinate. On the other hand, the Positive School believes that offenders should receive treatment and the sentences should be indeterminate. Both schools laid the foundation, but the way that the Positive School views the causation of crime the Classical School would not agree. ?