Blogs > Liberty and Power > Crime and Causation

Aug 26, 2004 5:06 pm

Crime and Causation

An exceptional column appeared in today’s Washington Times. Author Stanton E. Samenow puts forth what is becoming an increasingly radical idea; when we look at the reason for the commission of a crime, maybe we might want to look at the person who actually committed it rather than rap music, violent TV, neglectful parents, missed summers in the Hamptons, or poor toilet training.

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Jonathan Dresner - 8/26/2004

The problem which he is pointing out is the misapplication of social science to law. It is entirely relevant for social scientists to analyze both large groups and individuals to look for 'factors' which help us understand the way in which society and individuals develop and function. It is even not too unreasonable for social discourse, journalism included, to discuss the social context of crime and criminals with regard to specific cases. It is problematic when this scholarship is imported into the legal realm, when statistical association is used to obviate personal responsibility.