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Philosophy, Crime, and Criminology

Philosophy, Crime, and Criminology

Bruce A. Arrigo
Christopher R. Williams
Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    Philosophy, Crime, and Criminology
    Book Description:

    Philosophy, Crime, and Criminology represents the first systematic attempt to unpack the philosophical foundations of crime in Western culture. Utilizing the insights of ontology, epistemology, aesthetics, and ethics, contributors demonstrate how the reality of crime is informed by a number of implicit assumptions about the human condition and unstated values about civil society. _x000B_Charting a provocative and original direction, editors Bruce A. Arrigo and Christopher R. Williams couple theoretically oriented chapters with those centered on application and case study. In doing so, they develop an insightful, sensible, and accessible approach for a philosophical criminology in step with the political and economic challenges of the twenty-first century. Revealing the ways in which philosophical conceits inform prevailing conceptions of crime, Philosophy, Crime, and Criminology is required reading for any serious student or scholar concerned with crime and its impact on society and in our lives.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09041-7
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[x])
  3. INTRODUCTION: Philosophy, Crime, and Theoretical Criminology
    (pp. 1-38)

    Historically, philosophers have written very little about the subject of crime. Similarly, criminologists have written very little about the subject of philosophy. In both cases, the linkages between philosophy and crime have been left implicit—either in the more general metaphysical, ethical, and legal writings of philosophers, or the theoretical speculations of criminologists. However, to be sure, law and justice have been particularly significant concerns throughout the history of philosophy (e.g., Solomon & Murphy, 1990; Friedrich, 1963). From Plato, through Aquinas and Augustine, to Kant, Bentham, and Beccaria, many of the most important philosophical minds have confronted the complexities of social...

  4. Part One: Ontology and Crime

    • [Part One: Introduction]
      (pp. 39-40)

      By necessity, questions of ontology explore the nature of reality or existence. In relation to a philosophical criminology, what is examined is the social reality of crime. In this section, this question is posed both theoretically and pragmatically. Chapter 1 investigates the ontology of crime as linked to culture and mass-mediated representations of reality. The contemporary philosophical development of ontology is traced to Karl Marx, the Situationists, and Jean Baudrillard. The argument is made that in the postmodern era, people conspicuously consume media-generated images such as representations of crime that they take to be true, factual, and concrete. However, these...

    • ONE The Ontology of Crime: On the Construction of the Real, the Image, and the Hyperreal
      (pp. 41-73)

      What is the nature of reality, existence, or Being? This is the ontological question that will be systematically examined in relation to crime and criminological theory in the discussion that follows. To situate the overall analysis, the chapter is divided into four sections.

      Section 1 reviews the notion of ontology as linked to culture. One expression of culture is crime and, more broadly, criminological theory. This culture-crime-theory relationship is generally discussed, mindful of those mediating forces (e.g., politics, religion) and their corresponding effects (e.g., policies regarding criminal law, interpretations of criminal behavior) that come to typify social reality and criminological...

    • TWO Normalized Masculinity: The Ontology of Violence Rooted in Everyday Life
      (pp. 74-100)

      By 2004, insights generated from the feminist movement of the 1960s and 1970s have profoundly shaken the academy and permeated the interdisciplinary field of criminology; far less clear, though, is that the gendered structures of everyday life have been analogously transformed. Certainly within the academy generally, and regarding criminology specifically, genderʹs ramifications are now understood to necessarily encompass the study of men (and ʺmasculinitiesʺ) as well as women (and ʺfemininitiesʺ). Meaningful for criminologists, too, is that formerly male-dominated subjects like gangs have now expanded to include feminist scholars and the querying of womenʹs involvement (or lack thereof). Concerns about victimization...

  5. Part Two: Epistemology and Crime

    • [Part Two: Introduction]
      (pp. 101-102)

      Epistemology is the study of what we know and how we come to make knowledge claims. Thus, a philosophy of crime that was sensitive to epistemological pursuits would examine the basis on which criminological knowledge assertions are made and legitimized. In this model of inquiry, various assumptions about truth telling and meaning figure prominently into the overall analysis.

      Chapter 3 addresses the epistemological dimension of crime and criminology. The production of criminological knowledge is considered here as both the result and the source of a deeply social practice of tribal communality. Drawing inspiration from what is known as ʺactor-network theory,ʺ...

    • THREE Crime, Criminology, and Epistemology: Tribal Considerations
      (pp. 103-133)

      In his essay ʺOn Ethnographic Self-Fashioning: Conrad and Malinowskiʺ (1988), James Clifford, one of the most distinguished voices in theoretical ethnography, developed an interesting thesis. Comparing writing styles and strategies in literature (Joseph Conradʹs novels in particular) and ethnography (Bronislaw Malinowskiʹs anthropological works), Clifford argues that, like literature, ethnographical writings are just that: writing (see also on this topic Geertz, 1988). Like literature, ethnographical works seem to be largely the result of authors who, more or less desperately, are trying to build, or, at least, to stabilize themselves through the use of particular writing strategies, styles, and forms. More often...

    • FOUR The Epistemology of Theory Testing in Criminology
      (pp. 134-164)

      Since the Enlightenment, scholars have constructed and evaluated many different theories of law, crime, and punishment. Unfortunately, there is relatively little agreement among criminologists regarding the quality of these theories and little reason to believe that a consensus will be reached any time soon. Criminology is a multidisciplinary field comprised of conflicting theological, philosophical, biological, psychological, and sociological perspectives, not to mention other relevant disciplines that do not fall neatly into these categories. It endures persistent disagreements over the political and economic interests supported by various criminological theories, a situation that seems unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. Moreover,...

  6. Part Three: Ethics and Crime

    • [Part Three: Introduction]
      (pp. 165-166)

      Discussions of ethics entail a deliberate engagement with the thorny, contentious, and timeless debates surrounding the nature of freedom and responsibility, being and becoming, personhood and citizenship. Accordingly, ethical inquiry pursues the meaning of living virtuously and acting morally in an organic, complex society. In relation to the philosophical foundations of crime, ethical inquiry investigates how nonnormative expressions of reason, desire, choice, and conduct are fundamental, rather than peripheral, to being fully human.

      Chapter 5 examines the possibility of an ethics of crime or, more generally, an ethics that gives rise to criminal or nonnormative conduct understood as an ethics...

    • FIVE Engaging Freedom: Toward an Ethics of Crime and Deviance
      (pp. 167-196)

      In recent years, ethics has increasingly become a mainstay of criminological discourse. More and more, courses entitled ʺethics and criminal justiceʺ or ʺethics of crime and justiceʺ are entering university catalogs and program curricula. Textbooks and scholarly analyses of ethics and criminology are increasingly being published, entertaining variations on traditional ethical arguments and applying them to a host of controversial issues in crime, law, and justice. Continuing debates on discretion, use of force, and corruption in police behavior, on ʺzealous advocacy,ʺ plea bargaining, and discrimination in the courts, and on humane treatment, prisonersʹ rights, and capital punishment in corrections have...

    • SIX Ethics of Edgework: Spinoza, Nietzsche, and Deleuze
      (pp. 197-218)

      Edgeworkers provide the opportunity for engaging in expanded ethical discussion in justice studies. Edgework deals with non-materialistic expressions of motivation and how they account for or otherwise explain crime. Several forms of motivation along these lines include adrenalin rushes, visceral excitements, sneaky thrills, and emotional highs. Deleuzeʹs synthesis of the ethics of Nietzsche and Spinoza—for Nietzsche, an ethic of activity, for Spinoza, an ethic of joyfulness—has provided innovative concepts for an understanding of those who engage in edgework activity. This chapter, accordingly, will first spell out a Deleuzian informed ethic. Second, we will apply this to nonnormative activity...

  7. Part Four: Aesthetics and Crime

    • [Part Four: Introduction]
      (pp. 219-222)

      The study of aesthetics addresses many provocative questions involving image, style, perception, and symbolism. These are matters that transcend the modernist scientific polarities of factual and counterfactual, form and content, reality and representation. A philosophy of crime that is steeped in the logic of aesthetics exposes, challenges, and/or displaces cultural depictions of such phenomena as beauty, truth, and justice. In this aesthetic excursion, the line between good and evil, virtue and vice, law makers and law breakers is blurred, reconfigured, and, in the extreme, obliterated.

      As chapter 7 explains, the study of aesthetics is a field whose attention is directed...

    • SEVEN The Aesthetics of Crime
      (pp. 223-256)

      As a form of intellectual inquiry, any exploration of the subject of aesthetics engages fundamental aspects of human experience with an extensiveness that spans such questions as what it means to be human and express sensibilities, subjectivities, and interpretations. Consequently, in the study of art and aesthetics, we find the kinds of philosophical questions which drive human thought, a few of which include: What is being? What is meaning? What is happiness, beauty, evil, and transcendence? And certainly, not least of all, what is justice? However, the conceptualization of crime in connection to aesthetics is a relatively unarticulated and undertheorized...

    • EIGHT The Aesthetics of Cultural Criminology
      (pp. 257-278)

      Attempts to understand the nature of crime and crime control have often relied on the old social scientific dualism of form versus content, and on the associated hierarchy of investigation whereby surfaces must be stripped away so as to reveal the meaningful core of content. Emerging perspectives in the fields of social theory, cultural studies, sociology, and criminology over the past half century—and specifically in the field of cultural criminology over the past decade or so—have proposed a radically different ontology of crime and crime control. Founded in philosophic orientations sometimes categorized under the heading of aesthetics—that...

    (pp. 279-282)
  9. INDEX
    (pp. 283-292)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 293-295)