Classical Theory Approach to Explaining Crime Term Paper

This paper focuses on explaining a crime through the classical theory as opposed to the positivist approach to explain crime.
# 150562 | 1,350 words | 5 sources | APA | 2012 | KE
Published on Mar 11, 2012 in Criminology (General)

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The basic tenant of this paper is that understanding a crime forms the basis of understanding criminal justice. Exploring this foundation, the paper describes and explores what is known as the classical theory in contrast to the positivist approach. It is important, the writer argues, to understand criminological theories because any decision or policy made depends largely on these theories, regardless of whether people know them or not. Two questions posed throughout the paper are what is classical theory in criminology? As well as, does this approach explain and deal with crime sufficiently?

Classical Theory
Positivist Theory

From the Paper:

"Merchese de Beccaria, the father of classical theory on criminology, believed that free will determines one's decision-making and biological or environmental factors have nothing to do with one's decisions about crime (Merlo, 2007). This theory holds that people commit crimes because they choose to. Adherents of this theory claim that, people are pleasure seekers and pain avoiders. Given the fact that human beings are intelligent and rational beings, it becomes easy to conclude that people understand themselves and consequently act to promote their interests (Misha, 2005). Classical theory is formed on the basis that, people control their fate hence; crime is a matter of choice. Classical theory holds that, before committing crime, the victim weighs the merits or the potential benefits and the demerits, that is, the costs of committing a crime. According to Gonzalez (2008), classical school of thought seeks to establish justice system that would reduce the benefits of committing crime while increasing the demerits. This translates to reduced crime rates because people will not see the importance of committing crime if it will work against them finally. This approach integrates both legal and social strategies to deal with crime.
"The emergence of psychological hedonism backs classical theory largely. With regard to psychological hedonism, people pursue crime as a matter of ethical pursuit and justice system should tame this notion. Gonzalez (2008) concurs that people commit crime from an internal urge of dominance coupled with the short cut of acquiring something for nothing. People reason, fantasizes, and act according to underlying beliefs. What is the view of justice system according to classical theory?"

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Brohm, R., Haley, K. (2007). Introduction to Criminal Justice 5th ed. McGraw-Hill.
  • Coser, L. (2004). Crime Theories. Retrieved 7 Nov. 2009, from,
  • Gonzalez, R. (2008). A Classical View - Why Do People Commit Crimes? Retrieved 7 Nov. 2009, from,
  • Merlo, G. (2007). Criminology Theory - Classical Theory. Retrieved 7 Nov. 2009, From,
  • Misha, L. (2005). Theory on Crime: An Individual Choice or Societal Responsibility. Retrieved 7 Nov. 2009, from,

Cite this Term Paper:

APA Format

Classical Theory Approach to Explaining Crime (2012, March 11) Retrieved October 01, 2023, from

MLA Format

"Classical Theory Approach to Explaining Crime" 11 March 2012. Web. 01 October. 2023. <>