chapter  2
9 Pages

How, and do, criminals think? The classical deterrence framework and the meaning of rationality

We begin this exploration with a critical question: Are offenders rational? Much of the power of the deterrence framework, and certainly much of its appeal in policy conversations, stems from the common sense that lies at its core. Harm is something to be avoided, gain something to be sought. We train puppies, raise children, run organizations, and conduct international relations by these precepts. This is, at its heart, what deterrence is about. It is, at this level of exposition, very difficult to argue against. “It is a matter of common observation,” write Franklin Zimring and Gordon Hawkins, “that men seek to avoid unpleasant consequences, and that the threat of unpleasant consequences tends to be deterrent.”1