Rational Choice Theory

Critically explore the proposition that folks easily and rationally choose to commit criminal offenses.

This essay will critically discuss the proposition that individuals easily and rationally choose to commit crime. Alternative criminological theories such as the Positivist custom and more recent sociological perspectives of criminal offenses will be analyzed. This newspaper will conclude the proposition of the logical criminal is one of many constructions used within criminology to comprehend criminal patterns.

The proven fact that individuals openly and rationally choose to commit crime is due to the Classical University. Eighteenth century philosophers such as Jermemy Bentham, and Cesare Beccaria are associated with the classical tradition. Through the Enlightenment varied theories such as the social agreement and utilitarianism provided the initial framework for the theorization of legal activity in population. It really is argued (Garland 2001 p. 11) the classical college characterizes the offender as a rational free-willed actor who engages in offense in a determined, utilitarian way which is therefore responsive to deterrent. ' Traditional philosophers were engaged by the unlawful justice system and abuse in order to investigate wider socio-economic areas of the Enlightenment era. It must be recommended that criminal actions by the average person was not the key agenda of Classical theorists. However the school did give a platform to permit discussion as to what motivates an offender to commit criminal offense.

To understand why the average person was observed in a logical calculating manner it's important to go over the ideas of the social contract and utilitarianism. The common custom is founded after social contract ideas by Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau. John Locke published about the unwritten public contract between state institutions (such as the monarchy) and its own citizens. Locke positioned an emphasis on all individuals being identical, while those in sovereign electricity define a definite systematic platform for protecting citizen's fundamental privileges. The notion in human being free will and home interest regarding to Locke and Rousseau, meant the presence of population would be untenable if all individuals were motivated by selfish hobbies governing the way they lived. It is assumed that humans are logical, capable of self applied interest and are prone to commit crimes as an expression of their free will. Thomas Hobbes in Leviathan suggested the ˜right of all sovereigns comes from the consent of each one particular who are to be governed. ' (Wikipedia 2006) Thus folks are viewed rationally as citizens who've sacrificed part their liberty in making the social contract with their state. This sacrifice allows them to ˜live in a peaceful contemporary society' and not within an anarchic talk about of dynamics without laws and rules to govern conduct. Those who break their contract by not abiding specific community rules, cause injury which must be punished accordingly in proportion to their criminal conduct. Violating the sociable contract causes sanctions, to be able to handle state consequence on those those who have chosen to commit a crime.

Beccaria was one of the very most prominent social freelance writers advocating a traditional approach to criminal offenses in society. The text Dei Delitti e Delle Pene (Crimes and Punishments 1764) reviewed the thought of a justice system able to determine the appropriate levels of abuse for violations. Beccaria is important as he supported the reform of the criminal justice system and viewed crime in terms of the harm made to population rather than to the individual victim of a criminal offense. Beccaria applied the sociable deal model to crime and unlawful justice. Thus Beccaria thought all humans were logical beings. Consenting to the public contract meant giving up a partial amount of specific liberty to the sovereign electric power. Subsequently this arrangement allowed authorities to impose proportionate punishment to people breaking the founded rules of the state. For example the social contract idea was put on legal legislation of crime and the ones who commit it; that laws and regulations will be the ˜conditions under which self-employed and isolated men united to form contemporary society and tangible motives had to be introduced to prevent the despotic spirit. ' These take the proper execution of punishments set up against those who break regulations. (Jones 2001, Chap 5) It comes after that such violators of regulations are therefore employed within an irrational act. Criminal offense is viewed as an irrational become the deviant activity is recognized to be resistant to the best interests of the public. Beccaria also implemented a rationalized proportionate view of the way the state should respond to such criminal individuals. For example he argued the real way of measuring the seriousness of your offense is the harm to society and not the motive of the offender. Thus the punishment given by the state of hawaii must be established in public to ensure deterring others contemplating such serves. Beccaria argued for deterrence procedures to prohibit future criminal intentions and activity. Such reasoning organised that the menace and certainty of recognition is a highly effective form of deterrent. Once found the punishment of the crime should be swift to ensure maximum impact and impact. Beccaria's system relies on its clearness and simplicity. It really is a proportional system where abuse and sentencing goals to avoid re-offending and control criminal offenses. Secondly such a system and laws signify the ˜moral consensus of modern culture' acknowledging the seriousness of the criminal offense. (Hamlin 2006)

Jeremy Bentham was an integral figure of classical theory and was inspired by Beccaria's work. Bentham contacted the proposition that individuals choose to widely commit crime within the utilitarian framework. This was put on the penal system and crime. Bentham created the ˜felicitation concept', that whatever activity is devoted should endeavor to supply the maximum pleasure to the largest number of people in modern culture. Bentham developed the moral calculus also known as the pleasure-pain basic principle. For instance Bentham supposed that man is a logical calculating animal, who is able to judge probable benefits up against the pain likely to be enforced. Thus ˜if the pain outweighs increases in size he'll be deterred which produces maximum public energy. '(Wikipedia 2006) Bentham used the utilitarian idea to advocate the need for a rational justice system which was ˜graduated', based on the basic principle of proportionality to ensure fairness. Bentham's philosophical ideas laid the foundation for new varieties of penal systems, such as incarceration as a sanction, to fit the type of crime determined. (Garland 2002 pp. 20) Thus traditional theory argued that deterrence could be maximized through the proportional legal justice system. This approach called for the reform of excessive state punishment that was humane in penal sanctions. Through examining the impact of individual's capacity to freely commit criminal offenses, the classical freelance writers helped to place the original foundations of how criminal patterns could be studied and theorized in later modern criminology.

The classical ideas which have confidence in the rational sentience of humans have been seriously criticized to be too simplistic, and assumptive. For instance Gilbert Geis (1955) recommended Bentham's classical theory was a ˜total failing to consider thieves as humans as live complicated variegated personalities. ' The critics of the classical school further point out the key weakness in Bentham's utilitarian pleasure pain theory. The moral calculus of cost benefit examination is flawed in two ways. First it relies of the hypothesis that for deterrence to be successful the offender will take action rationally. Successive criminological colleges including the positivists have challenged this rational assumption of humans. Traditional ideas can be criticized based on failing to take into account individual circumstances and the unsophisticated manner it perceives human beings to act. Criminal offenses can frequently be a ˜spontaneous reaction to a situation' (Wikipedia 2006) which is often unplanned and without logical intention to commit it. Secondly the concept uses this same line of assumption in deciding a graduated range of punishment based on the seriousness of the offence. In counting on a just desserts model of abuse it assumes ˜the much more serious the harm likely to be caused a lot more the criminal has to gain. ' (Wikipedia 2006) Therefore Bentham has been criticized for painting man as an unrealistic calculating individual. It shows that subsequent criminal activity can only just be the consequence of free choice by those who choose to commit the criminal offenses. It generally does not take into account the varied dissimilarities within the human being condition or wider sociological factors which attribute other different factors for the causes of crime.

Criticism of the classical school highlights the lack of scientific data to back the moral, financial and sociable assumptions within the ideas of Beccaria and Bentham. For example Garland (2002 pp. 20) talks about the methodological criticisms of the classicist school because of its ˜unscientific reliance upon speculative reasoning somewhat than observed facts. ' The rejection of speculative thinking about the individual condition challenged the essential proposition that folks easily and rationally choose to commit crime in population. It really is argued by Garland while such criticisms highlight the lack of methodical knowledge; both Beccaria and Bentham were not criminologists but philosophers writing in the eighteenth century. Criminology as a definite form of study can track its roots back again to certain ideas printed by prominent social contract writers. Largely Bentham and more where not occupied in clinical debate but philosophical cultural and economic study. Social contract authors emphasized ˜the need for reason and experience, denigrating theological kinds of reasoning. ' (Garland 2002 pp. 20) It really is in this sense unfair to criticize Enlightenment freelance writers' contention of the rational free will from a criminological standpoint. Such classical theories were not specifically made to consider the analysis of crime on its own. But they attempt to engage in today's dialogue objectively working with current public issues of the time keeping away from, ˜irrational superstitious beliefs and prejudices' in discussions. This is seen in Beccaria's work which was not criminological but an comprehensive body of ˜work related to the political overall economy'. Garland (2001 pp. 20) argues that despite the classicists' lack of a scientific strategy, their pursuits helped to develop ways of investigating how and why crime is caused in society. For instance Garland argues that matters such as ˜psychology of offending, characteristics of criminal motivation, and condition control to regulate individual carry out' are central issues explored by classical writers to examine the idea of logical free will in a wider educational context. They were in Garland's view ˜seeking to understand the root base of human do rather than develop a particular knowledge of offenders and offending. ' (Garland 2002 pp. 23) In response to the traditional traditions' technological weakness, the ˜Neo-Classical' approach emerged maintaining the belief that humans were logical beings with individual free will and the capability for responsibility. Such individuals can be handled by worries of abuse. The Neo Classical perspectives searched to external explanatory factors in examining crime. For instance it located the concept of the individual's free will and choice to commit criminal offense within the broader panorama of the affect of communal environmental factors. Such outside the house factors could be used to asses the seriousness of the criminal offenses and the matching punishment to be given by their state.

The proposition that criminal offense is dedicated by free will and rational choice was attacked by the positivist college. Positivists viewed to overcome the lack of sophistication of traditional theory by using a ˜methodical' style to look at aspects of the legal and criminality. The main text which directed to discover the ˜science of the legal' (Garland 2002 pp. 23) was by Cesare Lombroso Lomo Delinquente in 1876. Lombroso is extensively seen as the father of modern criminology, focusing on the subject of crime by offenders. Lombroso thought in the primacy of clinical empirical review to answer why people commit offences. This school of thought contested the traditional proposition that offense was something of free will and rational though operations of humans. Principles of biological determinism suggested there were external forces outside the control of the individual in determining the capability for criminal behavior. For example studies by Lombroso, Ferri and Garofalo looked into the concept of the ˜created criminal' from distinctive physical features and examining social factors influencing the causes behind crime. The task of Lombroso was affected by the cultural impact of Darwin's Theory of Advancement and the existing anthropological studies which primarily were used to help understand individual motivations behind criminal offense. Garland (2002 pp. 24) suggests that positivists clearly rejected the classicists idea of rational free will due the notion in ˜the conception of the legal as a effortlessly occurring entity, an undeniable fact of nature somewhat than communal or legal product. ' Such an approach resulted in the natural scientific study of the legal type, to ˜trace its characteristics, its stigmata, its abnormalities and eventually identify the complexities which make one individual a unlawful and another person a normal resident. '

The give attention to the lifetime of unlawful types that happen to be predetermined somewhat than chosen by the free will of individuals, suggested the positivist institution also refuted the traditional view on unlawful justice and punishment. The positivists' emphasized the necessity for treatment rather than penal actions as a mechanism for offense control by the state. The rejection of the free will of logical stars is important as positivist theory is designed to distinguish between those who commit criminal offense from those who do not. The idea of free will is within this sense attacked as a ˜metaphysical abstraction' (Garland 2002 pp. 24) while the deterrence theory was regarded a failure in sentencing practice. In this background a second strand of positivist review developed known as the Governmental Task. It involved some federal government sponsored empirical enquiries. Such studies wanted to chart criminal offense patterns and keep an eye on police and prison practice in eighteenth hundred years Britain. Such studies led to traditional views to land from favor. For instance proportional sentencing in response to differing levels of harm was regarded as a ˜failing to identify between different types of offender. ' Thus the positivist approach it can be advised was a adaptable rehabilitative approach to preventing and dealing with criminality, as criminals themselves are not responsible for activities as they are already pre driven.

The importance of positivist views was to determine the bond between scientific methods analyzing all areas of criminality, with the individual and the wider communal context. Out of this premise a wide and far reaching academic self-control of criminology has become established within the last century evaluating issues such as why offense is devoted by offenders. Even though many of the studies of the Lambroso task have since been discredited its impact and ideas on rehabilitative treatment as a form of sociable control on criminal offense experienced an important influence on policy formers working within the legal justice system. Modern positivist criminologists still reveal the view that human action is not just a by product of selections, but is determined by biological, psychological or social forces. It can be suggested that this belief has helped to widen the discourse on ways of detailing why individuals commit criminal offenses under the influence of ˜deterministic' factors.

The proposition that criminal offenses is devoted by individual rational beings has also been challenged by the rise of the wide-ranging group of sociological criminological ideas. For example according to Rock and roll (2002 pp. 51) sociological solutions explaining offense is vastly dissimilar to the classicist and positivist approach to understanding why criminal offense is committed by the average person. Instead of concentrating on the average person as the foundation for empirical analysis, sociological theories draws from an array of potential causal factors. Thus the sociological method will try to study the significance of social institutions, group habit and discussion between communities and the average person. Sociological methods include Durkheimian and Mertonian anomie ideas, the Chicago College, and Labeling theory, all which cast unique social factors seeking the individual in an organization setting as to understand criminal behavior. Rock and roll (2002 pp. 51) argues this approach highlights the fact ˜criminal offenses is centrally bound up with the states endeavors to impose it's will through law; the meaning of those efforts to the law-breaker, law-enforcer and sufferer. ' This only functions to demonstrate a diverse approach to examining offense from all areas of those involved in the legal justice system. Early on classicist thought looked at in light of sociological theories shows there are extensive theoretical starting details to discuss the fundamental question if the individual freely selects to commit criminal offenses as a rational being.

Other disciplines such as legal mindset, has aided the study of criminal offense through medical analysis. For instance Hollin (2002 p. 145) states that the distinctive branch of criminological psychology is ˜worried by using mindset to help clarify criminal behavior. ' It is targeted ˜on the specific' as to what motivates criminal activity within the individual and society at large. Criminological mindset explores the proposition of the average person committing crime. For instance behavioral theory strains the importance of the in person comprehending the consequences of the act for the individual worried. '(Hollin 2002 p. 151) This acts to show how other modern ideas go through the role of the average person and responsibility with regards to unlawful activity within modern culture.

In conclusion this paper would claim the proposition that individuals widely and rationally choose to commit offense is a valid contribution to the dialogue concerning criminal behavior. The classical custom elevated important philosophical, sociable and moral issues related to offense and its impact within world. But the assumption in rational opinion is too simplistic to clarify the differences in individual unlawful actions. It generally does not account for individuals who are not capable of making rational decisions like the psychologically impaired or functions which irrationally arise unexpectedly. For this reason this article would argue that proposition is only one of many theoretical ways to comprehend why crime is committed by individuals in population.


Coleman C and Norris C, (2000), Adding Criminology, Cullompton: Willan Publishing

Garland D, (2002), Of Offences and Criminals: The introduction of Criminology in Britain, In Maguire M, Morgan R, Reiner R, (eds) (2002) The Oxford Handbook of Criminology, (pp. 7- 44) 3rd Model, Oxford: Oxford College or university Press

Geiss G, (1955) Pioneers In Criminology-Bentham 46 J Crim L, Criminology and Law enforcement Sci 159

Hamlin J, (2006) http://www. d. umn. edu/~jhamlin1/classical. html

Hollin C R, (2002), Criminological Psychology, In Maguire M, Morgan R, Reiner R, (eds) (2002) The Oxford Handbook of Criminology, (pp. 144-168) 3rd Edition, Oxford: Oxford School Press

Jones S, (2001) Criminology, 2nd ed, Butterworths

Maguire M, Morgan R, Reiner R, (eds) (2002) The Oxford Handbook of Criminology, 3rd Model, Oxford: Oxford University Press

Muncie J, Mclaughlin J (2001) The Problem of Crime, 2nd model, Open University Sage Publishing

Rock P, (2002), Sociological Ideas of Criminal offense, In Maguire M, Morgan R, Reiner R, (eds) (2002) The Oxford Handbook of Criminology, (pp. 51-75) 3rd Model, Oxford: Oxford School Press

Vold G & Bernard T, (2005) Theoretical Criminology, 5th model, New York: Oxford School Press

Walklate S, (2001), Gender Criminal offenses and Justice, Cullompton: Willan Press

Wikipedia, (2006), Classical College, http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/traditional_school

  • More than 7,000 students prefer us to work on their projects
  • 90% of customers trust us with more than 5 assignments
submit a project

Latest posts

Read more informative topics on our blog
Shiseido Company Limited Is A Japanese Makeup Company Marketing Essay
Marketing Strength: Among the main talents of Shiseido is its high quality products. To be able to satisfy customers, the company invested a great deal...
Fail To Plan You Plan To Fail Management Essay
Management This report will concentrate on two aspects of project management, their importance within the overall project management process. The report...
Waste To Prosperity Program Environmental Sciences Essay
Environmental Sciences Urban and rural regions of India produce very much garbage daily and hurting by various kinds of pollutions which are increasing...
Environmental Studies Pollution Introduction Many people across the world can remember having walked on the street and seen smoke cigars in the air or...
Soft System Methodology
Information Technology Andrzej Werner Soft System Methodology can be described as a 7-step process aimed to help provide a solution to true to life...
Strategic and Coherent methods to Recruiting management
Business Traditionally HRM has been regarded as the tactical and coherent method of the management of the organizations most appreciated assets - the...
Enterprise Rent AN AUTOMOBILE Case Analysis Business Essay
Commerce With a massive network of over 6,000 local rental locations and 850,000 automobiles, Organization Rent-A-Car is the greatest rental car company...
The Work OF ANY Hotels Front Office Staff Travel and leisure Essay
Tourism When in a hotel there are careers for everyone levels where in fact the front office manager job and responsibilities,assistant professionals...
Strategy and international procedures on the Hershey Company
Marketing The Hershey Company was incorporated on October 24, 1927 as an heir to an industry founded in 1894 by Milton S. Hershey fiscal interest. The...
Check the price
for your project
we accept
Money back
100% quality