Integrated Policy versus Integrated Science
Whether crime is defined as the breaking of a relevant law or a more generalized type of deviant behavior does not inhibit the fundamental positivist inquiry. more specifically, the positivist school of thought seeks to explain crime and deviance as phenomena that result from certain forces that are beyond an individual’s control.
This essay will compare and contrast two types of positivism, psychological and sociological, and argue that an attempt to create an integrated theory of criminology would do more harm than good. This may allow for the articulation of integrated social policies. Policies, however, must be kept separate from the underlying scientific theories and methods used to more clearly understand crime and deviance. This is because, in certain ways, the two strains of positivism, while concerned with similar issues in the larger picture, are not truly compatible as scientific methods of inquiry.
As a preliminary matter, both psychological positivists and sociological positivists are generally concerned with the same issues in a criminological context. These scholars are interested in determining, through application of the scientific method, the causes and the consequences of crime and deviance. Significantly, both schools of thought agree that these issues are not the fault of the individual. quite the contrary, they postulate that crime and deviance are caused by factors over which the individual has little or no control. This, however, is where the two theories begin to diverge. It is this focus, outside or uncontrollable forces, that characterize the respective types of positivism. The psychological positivists, for instance, argue that there are particular kinds of human personalities that are more likely to behave in a deviant manner or to produce criminal acts. The focus is thus the mind and it is therein that the uncontrollable forces reside. The sociological positivists, on the other hand, argue that there are particular types of social conditions and factors that are likely or more likely to influence individuals to behave in a deviant manner or to commit criminal acts. Both schools of thought agree that they are dealing with forces beyond the individual’s control. the key theoretical difference is that the psychological positivists concentrate on the mind whereas the social positivists concentrate on society.
For a psychological positivist, it is the condition of the mind that is of the greatest importance. The larger social context, for purposes of scientific analysis, is temporarily ignored. The question is how different individuals, different personalities, process information in different settings. How a person behaves is dependent on personality and psychological positivists tend to treat personalities as being rather stable and predictable. The implications, in the field of criminology, are important. By understanding different types of personalities, such as variations of an anti-social personality, psychological positivists believe that that they can predict which individuals will behave in certain deviant ways or commit certain types of criminal acts. It is this mode of scientific inquiry that has given rise to certain popularly known designations as the sociopath, the psychopath, and the sexual predator. In addition to identifying and classifying these types of personalities that are predisposed to certain types of behavior, the psychological