Classical criminology is considered to be the first
formal school of criminology. Classical criminology is associated with 18th and early 19th
century reforms to the administration of justice and the prison system.
Associated with authors such as Cesare Beccaria
(1738-1794), Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), Samuel Romilly (1757-1818), and others, classical
criminology brought the emerging philosophy of liberalism and
utilitarianism to the justice system, advocating
principles of rights, fairness and due process in place of retribution,
arbitrariness and brutality.
Classical criminology had developed as a question about punishment and neo-classical criminology as a question about the
Critical criminologists see in these reforms a tool by
which the new industrial order of capitalism was able to
maintain class rule through appearing to apply objective and neutral rules of justice
rather than obvious and direct class domination through coercion.
Criminal law is stated in terms of moral universals
rather than being seen as rules that simply protect the interests of property holders. The
claims to fairness in the justice system provide a sense of legitimation for the state and
the order it represents.
Classical criminology, derived from the political
philosophy of the Enlightenment, views criminal conduct as a matter of human nature.
Specifically, criminal behavior is a matter of freewill or choice. The ideas of classical
criminology provided the foundation of the American criminal justice system. Current
versions of classical criminology include the economic approach, rational choice, routine
activities and the general theory of crime. - Explaining Criminal Conduct, Paul Knepper
Crime and Human Nature - Overview - Chapter 2 - describes classical criminology.
Criminology, Reasons for its Persistence - Klasicna Kriminologija - Razlogi za
Njeno Trdozivo Aktualnost; Kanduc Zoran - Journal: Revija za kriminalistiko in
kriminologijo Volume:53 Issue:1 Dated: January-March 2002 Pages:12 to 25
Abstract: Classical criminology is a modern way of thinking about criminal offenses and
ways of dealing with them. It is often presented as diametrically opposed to positivist
criminology. These two important schools of criminology have a number of characteristics
in common, including a desire to establish the most effective system of prevention of acts
considered to be the most dangerous. Historical development has shown that classical and
positivist criminology is not incompatible at the operative level. Modern criminal law is
in fact a social institution comprising elements of both of these approaches to crime. The
popularity of classical concepts of a criminal offense, criminal offender, and criminal
sanctions is not hard to explain because they are deeply rooted in the ideology of the
modern world, based on the principle of endless capital
accumulation. World capitalism is reaching a situation of extreme insecurity in the
transition to a new world order. A classical paradigm, as well as a positivist, becomes
more anachronistic. This fact has to be taken into consideration because of the renewed
interest in classic ideas that has been witnessed in the last decade.
Reason is Not Sovereign: The Function of Reason in Hume and Consequences for the
Classical/Positivist Divide, Rational Choice Theory,
Low Self-Control Theory, and the Criminal Propensity
Construct. - Kissner, Michael Jason , PhD Dissertation - etd.lib.fsu.edu
Abstract: This work shows that classical criminological doctrine has been misunderstood
and that the consequences of this misunderstanding for contemporary criminological theory
and research are grave. In particular, classical criminologists subscribe to a view of
rationality that is strikingly different from that which is usually attributed to them.
Classical criminologists deny that behavior is invariably rational, and hold that
emotional considerations are determinative of the degree of rationality expressed in any
given behavior. This view, called emotional determinism, is used to generate a
theory of criminal propensity that can be empirically tested. The theory is intended as a
replacement for Gottfredson and Hirschis 1990 low self-control theory, which, while
influential, succumbs to the criticism that it is too heavily reliant on rational choice
principles. Finally, the work suggests that the genuine distinction between classical and positive school of criminologies consists in the fact that
as empiricists classical criminologists are committed to holding that environmental forces
can in principle be used to dissuade even the most committed of criminals.