chapter  6
13 Pages

Deviance and Human Nature

WithJames Q. Wilson

The most controversial theory of crime and deviance is that differences among individuals may have some genetic basis. If every culture has equal merit, then any human practice can be justified provided only that it is culturally determined. Family culture is almost beyond our reach. And culture more broadly defined is entirely beyond our reach. Suppose we were confident that crime rates have risen in almost every nation as a result of a vast expansion in the scope of human freedom and the celebration of individual autonomy. Evidence may appear showing conclusively that a large part of the group differences involve genetic factors. Like the attack on genetic explanations for behavior in the 1920s, it is often well-intentioned. The genetic influences on crime are not inexorable; as with all complex behaviors, criminality is the result of a complex interaction between biological endowments and social circumstances.