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Causation in criminology. Definition Controversy Criteria for Causality. Causation and crime. CAUSE . CRIME. Causation and crime. Delinquent friends . Lack of supervision. Physical abuse. CRIME. Emotional isolation. Low self-control . Low GPA . Causation and crime.

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causation in criminology

Causation in criminology

Definition

Controversy

Criteria for Causality

causation and crime3
Causation and crime

Delinquent friends

Lack of supervision

Physical abuse

CRIME

Emotional isolation

Low self-control

Low GPA

causation and crime4
Causation and crime

Delinquent friends

Lack of supervision

Physical abuse

CRIME

Emotional isolation

Low self-control

Low GPA

causation and crime5

Delinquent friends

Lack of supervision

Physical abuse

Emotional isolation

Low self-control

Low GPA

Causation and crime

CRIME

causation and crime6
Causation and crime

Lack of supervision

Delinquent friends

Low GPA

Low self-control

Emotional isolation

CRIME

causation in our life
Causation in our life
  • Causality is the centerpiece of the universe and so the main subject of human knowledge
  • It is needed for knowing the beginnings and endings of things
  • To make sense of the world
  • Causation is a relationship that holds between events, objects, variables, or states of affairs
our language contains
Our language contains…
  • the following causative verbs:
  • cause, make, create, do, effect, produce, perform, determine, influence; construct, compose, constitute; provoke, motivate, force, facilitate, induce, get, stimulate; begin, commence, initiate, institute, originate, start; prevent, keep, restrain, preclude, forbid, stop, cease, etc.
  • Our language implies that we operate with causation all the time
  • We are not aware of controversy
dichotomy among researchers
Dichotomy among researchers
  • Opinions differ in criminology about what is the most appropriate methodological framework
  • Social science commitment continuum

Scientific Method

Pluralistsperspective

Quantitative data;Causation;Predictions and control based on causation;

Qualitative data;Causation is not the purpose;Lack of replications;

examples of causal relationships
Examples of causal relationships
  • The cue ball coliding with the eight ball causes the eight ball to roll into pocket
  • The presence of Heat causes water to boil
  • The Moon's gravity causes the Earth's tides.
  • A hard blow to the arm causes a bruise
  • My pushing the accelerator caused the car to go faster
can we observe causality
Can we observe causality?
  • It is not possible to detect a cause empirically
  • We can rarely directly sense a cause
  • We merely induce their existence from our experience of the association of two or more events
  • Can we observe how a hard blow to the arm causes a bruise?
anatomy of bruise
Anatomy of bruise
  • Bruise occurs when underlying muscle fibers and connective tissue are damaged without breaking the skin.
imagine a situation
Imagine a situation

Someone punched you on the arm

BRUISE

You hit the arm against a wall

example from criminology
Example from criminology

Lack of supervision

Delinquent friends

CRIME

Physical abuse

Emotional isolation

Low self-control

Can we empirically observe causation?

david hume 1748
David Hume (1748)
  • It is impossible to demonstrate empirically that a cause produces an effect
  • Just because the sun has risen every day since the beginning of the Earth does not mean that it will rise again tomorrow
  • However; it is impossible to go about one's life without assuming such connections, and the best that we can do is to maintain an open mind and never presume that we know any laws of causality for certain
david hume 174816
David Hume (1748)
  • Causality is an interpretation of observables (causal statements are always inferential)
  • Rooster and the Sun
ridicules examples
Ridicules Examples
  • Before television, two World Wars; after television, no World Wars
  • In similar fashion, one of my friends recently pointed out to his girlfriend that he didn't have any grey hairs until after he started going out with her...which is true but he's in his late 30s and they've been seeing each other for 3 years
  • I suppose it could be the relationship...
causality in criminology
Causality in Criminology
  • Positivism = Deterministic perspective
  • To be a cause, event X must be both a “necessary condition” and “sufficient condition” for the event Y
  • “necessary condition”- in the absence of X, Y will not occur
  • “sufficient condition” – Y always occurs in the presence of X
deterministic relationship in criminology
Deterministic relationship in criminology
  • Brain tumor is a necessary and sufficient condition for crime
  • In the absence of tumor, no criminal behavior
  • We do not need anything besides tumor to observe criminal behavior
  • Another example: “Low grades cause involvement in deviant conduct”
  • Are low grades a necessary condition for delinquency?
  • Are they a sufficient condition?
classical school
Classical School

Believed that individuals weigh the probabilities of present and future pleasures against those of present and future pain.

Can we identify the cause?

soft determinism
Soft determinism
  • Apply a probabilistic approach
  • The probabilistic concept of causality suggests that human behavior is neither completely determined by external forces nor completely outcome of the unfettered exercise of free will choices
probabilistic perspective
Probabilistic perspective
  • “The presence of X renders the occurrence of Y more probable”

Individuals with low grades are more likely to deviate

causality
Causality
  • How do we know if A causes B?
  • Time
  • Association
  • No other factor causes both (spuriousness)
slide24
Time
  • It is usually presumed that the cause chronologically precedes the effect
  • In a strict reading, if A causes B, then A must always be followed by B.
  • Sex and pregnancy (what goes first?)
  • Smoking and lung cancer (What goes first?)
association correlation
Association/correlation
  • Changes in X cause changes in Y
  • For example, football weekends cause heavier traffic, more food sales, etc.
  • We must be very careful in interpreting correlation coefficients
  • Just because two variables are highly correlated does not mean that one causes the other
examples
Examples
  • Ice cream sales and the crime rate are correlated (both increase during summer)
  • The number of cavities in elementary school children and vocabulary size have a strong positive correlation
spuriousness

Crime

Ice Cream

Sales

Spuriousness?
spuriousness28

Summer

Time

Crime

Ice Cream

Sales

Spuriousness?
spuriousness30

Age

Vocabulary

size

Cavity

Spuriousness?
causality32
Causality
  • Requires some assumptions about the world
  • Reality is real, it exists “out there” and waits to be discovered
  • Reality is ordered (not chaotic)
  • Behavior of humans is patterned
  • Without this assumption the logic and predictions would be impossible
  • Reality is stable, but knowledge about it is additive
controversy
Controversy
  • Not all scholars agree with those assumptions about reality
  • Reality can be changed (delinquency and supervision)
  • People can change the history (reality)
  • One person can change a lot (Hitler)
  • Interpretative approach
what is different about people
What is different about people?
  • Human beings are qualitatively different from the objects of study in the natural sciences (rocks, stars, chemical compounds, etc)
  • Humans think and learn, have an awareness of themselves and their past
  • These unique human characteristics are the reason for the debate how criminology should look like
interpretative pluralists approach states
Interpretative/pluralists approach states
  • Social reality is largely what people perceive it to be
  • Reality is fluid and fragile (it is not waiting “out there”)
  • People possess an internal sense of reality (subjective reality)
  • We can only study people’s definitions and interpretations of reality but not reality itself
examples of subjective realities
Examples of subjective realities
  • Elephant and four blind men
more examples four temperaments
More examples (four temperaments)

The same situation

evokes absolutely

different reactions.

How can we apply causation here?

thomas s theorem 1928
Thomas’s theorem (1928)
  • Another argument against causality
  • “If people define situation as real, they are real in their consequences”
  • This theorem is related to the subjectivity of reality
  • Examples?...
  • What do you think of causality in sociology now?
how to solve the problem of causality
How to solve the problem of causality?
  • Interpretative approach does not say that social behavior is chaotic
  • There is some pattern in human behavior
  • But this pattern is not due to the causal laws
  • It is created out of the system of social conventions people generate during their interactions