How (Some) Criminals Are Made

Theodore Y. Blumoff

in Law and Neuroscience

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199599844
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191725227 | DOI:

Series: Current Legal Issues

How (Some) Criminals Are Made

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Some kids have bad luck. Consider abused kids. It is a brute sociological fact that they tend to become abusers themselves. Bad luck it is when children are the unfortunate victims of poor antecedent and constitutive conditions that conduce to harmful behaviour, mala in se. This chapter attempts to explain why this is the case, at least for some children, and perhaps especially for those who enter the world with low levels of monoamine oxidase type A (MAOA) — a brain enzyme responsible for inhibiting neurotransmitters associated with aggression. This chapter argues that individuals of this type — genetic predisposition coupled with abusive and/or neglectful early environments — have suffered from those poor constitutive, antecedent, and circumstantial conditions that generate bad moral luck and, therefore, they are less blameworthy than those who have not endured the combination of such conditions; and are particularly good candidates for therapeutic justice, that is for treatment for those who we know or prima facie should know suffer neurobiological deficits.

Keywords: abused children; child abuse; monoamine oxidase type A; criminal behaviour; genetic predisposition; aggression

Chapter.  11216 words. 

Subjects: Medical and Healthcare Law

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