Science Is The Most Systematic Way Criminology Essay

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The structure of scientific revolution is the historic analysis of the science presented by Kuhn. Basically Kuhn was historian of science and firmly believes that philosophers have much to learn from the study of the history of science. He claims that insufficient attention to the history of science has led the Positivist to form an inaccurate and naive picture of the scientific enterprise. As the title of his book indicates, Kuhn was especially interested in scientific revolution where existing scientific ideas are replaced with new one, for example, the Einstienian revolution in physics and Darwinian revolution in biology. Each of these revolutions led to a fundamental change in the scientific world, where existing set of ideas was overthrown by a completely new set of ideas. Scientific revolution happens relatively and frequently. Most of the time, any given science is not in the state of scientific revolution. Therefore Kuhn coined a term "normal science" to describe the ordinary activities that scientists perform on daily basis, where their discipline is not going under revolutionary change. Central to Kuhn's normal science theory is the concept of paradigm shift. A paradigm consists of two main components, firstly a set of fundamental theoretical assumptions that all members of the scientific problems that have been solved by means of those theoretical assumptions and that appear in a text book of the discipline in question. But a paradigm is more than just a theory, though Kuhn sometimes uses the word interchangeably. When scientists share a paradigm, they do not just agree on certain scientific propositions, they agree also on how future scientific research in their field should proceed, on which problem are the pertinent one to tackle, on what the appropriate methods for solving those problems are , and on what the acceptable solution of problems would look like and so on. In short a paradigm is an entire scientific outlook, a constellation of shared assumptions, believes and values that unite a scientific community and allow normal science to take place.

What exactly does normal science involve? According to Kuhn, it is primarily a matter of puzzle solving. However, how successful paradigm is, it will always encounters certain problems. For examples, phenomena that it cannot easily accommodate, mismatches between the theories predictions and the experimental facts and so on. The job of the normal scientist is to try to eliminate these minor puzzles while making as few changes as possible to the paradigm. In kuhn words

"Normal science does not aim at novelties of fact or theory and when successful finds none."

Typically a period of normal science last many decades, sometime even for centuries. During this time scientists gradually articulate the paradigm , tune it and solve more and more puzzles and extent it application and so on. But over time a number of anomalies are discovered, phenomena that simply cannot be reconciled with the theoretical assumptions of the paradigm, how hard the scientists try to do so. When more and more accumulates in certain paradigm, then a burgeoning sense of crisis envelopes the scientists community. Confidence in the existing paradigm breaks down and the process of normal science temporarily goes to a halt. This marks the beginning of period of revolutionary science as Kuhn calls it. During such periods fundamental scientific ideas are seized. A variety of alternatives to the old paradigm are proposed and eventually a new paradigm becomes established. The essence of scientific revolution is thus, the shift from an old paradigm to new one. Kuhn's characterization of history of science as long period of normal science punctuated by occasional scientific revolution, struck many philosopher and historian of science. A number of examples from the history of science fit Kuhn's model of scientific revolution quit well. For example when we examine the transition from Newtonian to Einsteinian physics, many of the features Kuhn describes in his scientific revolution, are present. Ordinarily it is assumed that when scientist trades their existing theories for a new one, they do so on the base of objective evidence, but Kuhn argues that adopting a new paradigm involves ascertain faith on the part of the scientist. Kuhn states that a scientist could have good reasons for abandoning an old paradigm for a new one. But Kuhn also argues that reasons alone can never rationally compel a paradigm shift. Surely scientists are meant to base their believes on evidences and reasons, not on faith or peer pressure from other scientists. Kuhn suggests that the facts about the world are paradigm relative and thus change when paradigm changes


Legally speaking, crime is a violation of criminal law and this act of violation is punishable by law. A person who breaks or violates the criminal law is called a criminal. Acoording to Paul Tappan, An intentional act is crime in violation of criminal law, committed without defence or excuse, which is penalized by state. Whereas Criminology is the study of crime and criminal behavior.The focus of criminology is on different forms of criminal behavior and the causes that create such behavior in people.It also studies how people and how societies with a criminal justice sytem reacts to such criminal behavior. Accoring to Walsh, criminology is the scientific study of crime and criminal behavior and relates the people and society to the criminal behavior which includes causes, extent, control and nature of this behavior. The goal of criminology is to study these criminal beahior in order ot react to them properly to prevent crime in the society. Philosopher of all times presented different theories to study criminal behavior. They focused on why people commit crime, what can be done to prevent crime and how can we manipulate different variable to influence people who comiit crime to stop them from commiting crimes. Many philosopher presented many different ways to study crime and criminal behavior. Some believed that it is biological or genetic related phenomena, some beleibve that it is a rational choice and so on. In this essay I will provide a brief description of some well known theories and then I will discuss the shift that has been occurred in these theories. Note: Due to the time limitation and number of pages I have to write (10 pages at most), I will only discuss some of the important theories that have great influence on the criminology.

Since different fieled like sociology (especially the sociology of deviance), law, social anthropologists and behavioral sciences has fuelled the field of crimonogy, therefore it is considered as interdisciplinary field[1].


In 17th century, the term criminology as criminologia was first coined by Raffaele Garofalo, who was an Italian professor and philosopher. But later around the same time Paul Topinard, a French anthropologist, also used analogous term criminology for the study of crime and crimal behavior [1].

Since the focus of criminology is crime and criminal behavior therefore the first questions that comes to mind is, what actually crime is? Why people commit crimes, what are the reasons that make people to commit crime, what can be done to prevent crime, are there any way to influence people who commit crime to stop them from committing crimes? To tackle these kind of question or similar questions, philosophers have presented new ideas, research and theories that relate crime , people and societies.

In 17th century criminology became the focus of philosopher when an Italian philosopher Cesare Beccaria started to talk about the criminology (Beccaria 1764). He states that crime is the rational choice of people to commit crime. According to him people decides to commit crime because they weigh the pain and pleasure and then they make the decion to either commit crime or not. At that time the social philosophers started to consider crimonolgy to study the crime and concepts of law [1].

History shows that many of the philosophers have discussed those complexities that are related to social offence, social control, social obligation, and societal response to crime.

The philosophical thinking was nerver considered to study the crime and criminal behavior (before 17th century) that is why there was no improvement in the theories but it was the 17th century when Cesare Beccaria introduce the philosophical thinking in studying the crime.

I will focus on how different theories and philosophical thinking, in the field of criminology, are established through the history. I will also discuss what kind of shifts have occurred by considering the progress of criminology throughout the history.

Most of the books on criminological theories or criminology begin their historical deiscussion from Cesare Beccaria (Beccaria 1764)[12]. Before Beccaria, the Western philosophy implicitly discussed the crime, law and justice. But at least it can be traced back to Plato when the criminology was considered as philosophical issue. After this the Middle Ages era comes when the criminology was considered as a subject of theological concerns. Later comes the era of modernity when Beccaria and Bentham introduced the meditative thinking in to the feiled of criminology. After the modernity the scientific theories from early biological positivists were introduced in the field of criminology and then finally it entered into the postmodernity.

Though crime is considered as a social fact, but still the specific realities of crime are related to place and time. Therefore whatever assumptions explicit or implicit, that were considered to study crime, were developed from ancient Greece philosophy of crime (e.g. Plato or Kant). German had a completely different view of criminology than other western world that we look today.

In Middle Ages, Theology had a profound influence on human, and how it conceptualize the world [13] [14]. In Middle Ages the Greek philosophy of "crime as vice" came to an end. At that time the theological philosophy of "crime as sin" was develop. In Middle Ages, the philosophers characterized the human world and social life as a constant struggle between good and evil forces by considering these forces uneven and always against each other. The only difference at that time was about "soul". The soul was connected to the supernatural power (Dilman 1999; Kenny 1980) [15] [16].

As St. Thomas Aquinas states,

"the soul was gift from God, implanting within humans a likeness to His ultimate reason".

Therefore any disobedience or sin was considered a failure (crime) to sensibly use the powers of choice and reason that God had given. It was considered that Crime(evil) only take place when human desires towards pleasures which make him to act against the God' well. For all such acts the demon was considered responsible who tempt the human to defeat his conscience embody in his soul (Einstadter and Henry 1995, p 34-35). [17].

Rational Hedonism ( the emergence of modernity):

Till the mid of 17th century, there was no progress in the crime law and justice and the philosophical thinking about them remained the same. A significant shift occurred in 17th and 18th centuries when the crime, criminal behavior and law were considered as philosophical issue and many of the philosophers started using philosophy to study the crime and criminal behavior. This was the Enlightment period and Beccaria (1738-1794) [12] and Bentham (1748-1832) philosophical thinking in studying the criminology was the basis for this philosophical shift. It is recognized that in mid 18th century ,the modern criminology came to existence Before the modern criminology the classicism considered the human nature and behavior free of theological influence , and therefore they established a different perspectives other than theology to study the crime and criminal behavior. They focused on different thoughts and reasons that people had in different societies. So the main focus of philosophy of classicism was human responsibility, free will, rationality, and pleasure-seeking calculation, rather than connecting the human nature and behavior to supernatural power or as a constant struggle between good and evil forces by considering these forces uneven and always against each other.


In mid of the 17th century, Classical philosophical thinking was introduced in a response to the barbaric system of law and punishment to study the crime and criminal behavior. The focus was on human free choice and rationality. The main focus of this school of criminology was on law-making and to develop a justice system. It was believed that people committed a crime with a total free will and that people weighed the pain and pleasure and then they make the decion to either commit crime or not. So these philosophers believed that making the punishment larger than the pleasure could stop people from doing crimes [6]. This philosophical shift in criminology emerged when Cesare Beccaria, and Jeremy Bentham presented their classical philosophy in mid of the 17th century. They introduced the theory of utility, and started explaining the human behavior and its deviance scientifically (Juvenile, 2005).

European Enlightenment paradigm presented theories of demonology and naturalism to explain the human behaviors and its deviance. But these theories were rejected by the classical school of philosophy. Beccaria wanted to have a more balanced punishment for a crime. He related the punishments to the seriousness of the crimes. In his book "An Essay on Crimes and Punishment" published In 1764, he considered many philosophical perspectives that why people commit crimes and what are the roles of societies in such crimes. He stated that the law should treat all the people equally and the misuse of judicial power should be avoided. He also stated in his book that for a particular crime, the legislation should standardize the punishments [12].

Another classical theorist Jeremy Bentham also believed that human beigns are rational beings and they make their choices with a free will. Therefore both of the philosophers stated that making the punishment larger than the pleasure could stop people from committing crimes [12].

The criminologist from early 19th century did not agree with the philosophy of punishments introduced by the classical school of criminology. They argued that the classical school did not considered different varying circumstances of those people who commit crime and of those in justice system. They argued that those individuals who are incapable of differentiating between good and bad, right and wrong, for example mentally ill people and especially children, should not be punished in the same manner for the same crime as mentally capable and normal individuals. They believed that the criminal must be considered in making the punishment and not the crime itself [4]. Therefore mentally ill people and children should not be punished with the same intense punishment as normal and mentally capable people for the same committed crime.

In 1827, France published its annual crime statistics for the first time; right after sixty years Beccaria publisghed his book. It was clear from these statistics that the crime rate was unexpectedly regular and that the crime rates remained the same from year to year, for both specific crimes and for general crimes. These statistics also showed that different regions in the country have different crime rates, some have high rates and some have low crime rates and they also remained the same each year. These statistics clearly uncovered that the classical theory of punishment failed in preventing the crime in society and failed in stopping the people from committing the crime. It was obvious that there were some other reasons or factors that caused the crimes in the society and influence the people to commit the crime. Because of this philosophical thinking, a new shift occurred in the field of criminology and a new paradigm of criminology came to existence, called as positivism. This paradigm focused on the reasons and factors of crime in the form of the individuals and in the form of societies [8].


The positivist school of philosophy introduces a scientific approach to the field of criminology. Biological and medical findings were introduced in this approach. The positivist school of philosophy came to special prominence in 19th century due to the revolution in the science, when people like Charles Darwin based their discoveries and findings on scientific advancements. Instead of religious belief and theological philosophy, the positivist started using "objective" science to discuss the human, human behavior and the universe. The philosophers in the Positivists school of thought sought to describe the universe objectively. Therefore they presented a different view of the universe, known as the deterministic view in order to explain the criminal behavior. They believed that crime and criminal behavior is not a legal issue, and therefore it could not be stopped by punishing the criminals harshly or by rectifying the criminals. They argued that the criminal behavior is determined by psychological, biological, and social qualities. Therefore most of the philosophers of this school of thought were attracted to use scientific techniques to study crime and criminal behaviors. Different individual and social phenomena were explained with data, which was collected using different scientific tools and techniques.

When Darwinian Theory came, the criminologist started believing that human is a creature and that it is not the free will that affect its behavior instead it is the biological or cultural background that influence its behavior. This was for the first time that criminology started using the "scientific" studies to explain the criminal behavior.

However, it was an Italian philosopher Cesare Lombroso who brought a big revolution in the positivist criminology in 1876, when he published his book "Criminal Man" and he received the title of "father of criminology [20]. Darwinian Theory in biology influenced Lombroso very much and he started to observe the physical characteristics of different prisoner. Later he concluded from his observations that a particular physical makeup was more connected to the criminal behavior [18]. Lombroso used a term Stigmata for the physical characteristics and stated that it was the stigmata of a person which indicated that the person is activist. Here the activists means that the person with a particular physical characteristics is involved in the crime.

The idea was that the people are "born" criminals and there may be certain characteristics that can tell whether someone is criminal or not. For example ears, noses, jaws, forehead, big hands or feet and so on. Lombroso argued that these physical characteristics can be correlated to the individual criminal behavio. [20].

In late 19th century, there was another shift in the philosophical thinking in the field of criminology, known as cartographic school of thoughts. These philosopher established statistical work in criminology, and evaluated the data on crime and society. Lambert Quetelet a French philosopher (1796-1874), and André Guerry a Belgium philosopher were from this school of thought[19]. A detailed statistical data was collected to study the criminal behavior and the committed crimes in order to find out that factors and reason that make the people to engage in the crime.

Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) change the philosophical thinking in the field of criminology and introduced another philosophical thinking in the criminology. He argued that the individual's criminal behavior is not same and normal in all societies. He stated that there is not a single society in this world that has a uniform moral consciousness. All societies have some kind of deviance in the behavior, and criminal deviance is included in it. He mentioned that modern and industrial societies play a very significant role in this behavior deviance, He further mentioned that criminal behavior are built by these kind of societies as compared to those societies that are not modern or industrial.

Sociology and Criminology:

In the 19th and 20th century, another philosophical shift occurred when sociology became the discipline and criminology was considered as a subfield of sociology. This period was known as the modern criminology period. The sociological philosophical thinking was considered the most influential approach. The philosophers from this school of thought focused on the social behavior, social structures and social systems.

Social-Structural Criminology: In early 20th century another philosophical thinking emerged in the field of criminology at the University of Chicago, which was based on Robert Park and Ernest Burgess theories. This school of thought is called as Chicago school thought. They introduced an ecological thinking in criminology. They focused on the environmental aspects of socities to study the people behavior instead of the biological or physical characteristics or any other personal characteristics.

In 1970s another shift in the philosophical thinking in field of criminology came to existence, known as Critical criminology. Criminologist from the critical school of thoughts based their theories on the economical philosophical thinking and started studying the criminal behavior from an economical perspective. They argued that some inequalities in the society can cause criminal behavior and make the individual to engage in a crime. For example they focused on the justice system, laws, who make the laws, why they make those laws and who benefit from those laws. Critical criminology takes the conflict view of society, and believes that some people make law as in their own service and that those laws maintain the power of powerful and keeps those who are powerless in powerless position.

It has four major approaches to study the conflict in societies.

Labeling theory:

Unlike other social theories, labeling theory reject using offender as starting point in their analysis. The labeling theorists focus on the behavior of those who react to those who are labeled as criminals. They believe that these social reactions trigger the process that traps the individuals in a criminal career. One of the first labeling theorists was Edwin Lemert (1951) who discussed the primary and secondary deviance. He argues that this criminal identity narrows the ability for an individual to choose normal or conventional ways of life. Therefore the criminologists from labeling school of thought mainly have focused on the effects of labeling a person as a deviant rather than focusing on the offender himself

Conflict theory:

This theory is based on the Marxism. It focuses on who controls the power structure of the society and who does not. The conflict theorist studies the conflict between those who has power and those who does not have. They believe that the power shift can result in an unbalance in the society and that it could have effect on the human behavior and societal response. The criminologists from this school of thoughts argued that the crime in a society occurs due to the conflicts between different classes.

Feminist theory:

The focus of this school of thought is on the gender. It promotes equality for the sexes. This school of thought believes that society itself and even cultures, the people are in, take a large role in defining how the people think about themselves, how they act and what kind of behaviors people will have. And all these are based upon the gender of the people. The theorist from this school state that women's crime rate is much lesser that the men's' crime rate. Therefore these theorists focus on who commits crime more, women or men and why such difference exits?

Radical theory:

Radical criminologist focused on the economical perspective, for example on the capitalism. This theory was based on the Marxism. Theorists from this school of thought believed that capitalism itself creates inequality in the society, and in return this inequality creates a conflict between those who have money, power, and property and those who do not have all these things.