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Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

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Biological Factors in Crime

Updated: 7 December 2016 Are criminals born or ‘made’? This is a question which has vexed philosophers for millennia and psychologists and sociologists since the dawn of the behavioural sciences early in the 19th Century. The deterministic view offered by biological explanations for criminality – ie: you have no real choice, it’s in your biological make-up – have major implications for how society treats criminals – especially violent ones.  Biological theories assert criminal behaviour has a physiological origin, with the implication that the ‘criminal’, therefore, has difficulty not committing crime because it is ‘natural’ –  ie: the ‘born criminal’ concept. Biological determinism can be used to undermine the legal concept of criminal responsibility: criminals are held to be personally and morally accountable for their actions. Only when the Law of Diminished Responsibility is applied in cases of self-defence and mental illness – and in some countries (eg: France) ‘crimes of passion’ (temporary insanity) – is the defendant assumed not to have acted from their own free will. 3 cases illustrate how biological arguments have been used as mitigating factors to reduce the level of criminal responsibility:- In 1994 Stephen Mobley was sentenced to death for shooting dead the manager of an American branch of Domino’s Pizza. He was also found… Read More

Why Scotland and rUK need Each Other

Whatever decision the Scottish electorate make on 18 September – and personally I hope very much they vote to stay in the UK – it needs to be made by a decisive majority. The worst possible outcome would be a wafer-thin majority for either camp – which unfortunately is exactly what the latest polls are predicting. A thin majority for the separatists would leave a sizeable minority of Scots alarmed that their country was leaping into the financial and political abyss, reflected in the anticipated flight of capital and business. A tiny minority for the unionists would leave the separatists angry and frustrated, blaming Westminster and the media for manipulating the vote, and vowing still to free Scotland from the English. The campaigning has been increasingly bad-tempered and vitriolic as the referendum approaches. It would appear from media reports that the worst of it – such as the torrent of online abuse targeting J K Rowling (as reported by the Daily Telegraph’s Ben Riley-Smith) and the heckling and egging of Scots Labour MP Jim Murphy (as reported by the Daily Mail’s Tamara Cohen & Kaleda Rahman) – has come from the separatists. This would indicate a large degree of RED/BLUE zealotry –… Read More

Have David Cameron and George Osborne ruined Britain?

Of course, the rot set in well before David Cameron and Nick Clegg formed the Coalition Government in May 2010. As the Public Sector Net Borrowing chart shows, it was during Gordon Brown’s ill-fated premiership that the deficit increased massively. (The Public Sector Deficit is the difference between what the Government spends and what it takes in via taxes to fund that spending – the difference being borrowed.) To give them some credit, as the chart shows, the Coalition did bring the deficit down quite markedly in their first couple of years primarily via swingeing cuts in the public sector. However, there are significant signs that the rate of decrease in borrowing may be slowing down. In December’s Autumn statement Chancellor George Osborne predicted that borrowing would be £108B this year, and £99B next year and just £31B in 2017-18. In his Budget last week, just 3 months later, Osborne revised those figures to £114B this year, £108B next year and £61B in 2017-18. Hand in hand with this, Osborne was forced to revise December’s estimate of growth this year from 1.2% to O.6%. While it looks like the UK may just about avoid a triple-dip recession, the outlook for growth in… Read More

Is the Big Society in BIG Trouble?

So the day after David Cameron effectively relaunches the ‘Big Society’, with a new ‘white paper’, his key figure in charge of implementing the Big Society, Lord Wei of Shoreditch, resigns…. That could hardly be worse timing! Surely Cameron knew Wei was going?!? In which case it would have been much more politically astute to have rescheduled the launch of the white paper. As it is, Wei’s departure is a gift to Labour, with Shadow Cabinet Office minister Theresa Jowell saying, “….yet again”  the Big Society is “descending into farce. Only a day after Cameron told us all to take more responsibility, it appears that there will now be nobody in his government responsible for bringing the Big Society into reality.” If Cameron didn’t know Wei was going, then it says something about Wei that he could time his resignation to such negative effect or about either Cameron’s judgement in recruiting such a fickle ally or  Cameron’s treatment of Wei that he could undermine his boss in such a damaging way. Whatever the circumstances of Wei’s depearture, the effect is damaging both to Cameron personally and to the development of the Big Society concept. Whether you think Cameron is being honest when… Read More

Well, are the Arabs ready for Democracy?

On 22 February David Cameron, in an address to the Kuwaiti parliament, hit out at suggestions the Middle East “can’t do democracy”, saying: “For me, that’s a prejudice that borders on racism.” Even at the time it was blatantly clear that such statements were part of his and French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s campaign to persuade the United Nations to approve military action against the forces of Muammar Gaddafi viciously and bloodily repressing pro-Democracy rebels across Libya. A little over 6 weeks later, as NATO tries not to apologise for bombing the hell out of the first armoured column the hard-pressed Libyan rebels have been able to assemble in what is now a de facto civil war…as revolutionary Tunisia and revolutionary Egypt wonder what on earth to do next now they’ve gotten rid of their dictators…and Syrian security forces exterminate yet more pro-Democracy protestors on the streets of Deraa, I’d argue it could be construed as racist not to ask the question: “Can the Arabs do Democracy?” After all, thousands of Arabs have died over the past 3 months in the name of Democracy. If we’re not to devalue their lives, we have to ask whether their sacrifice for their cause is justified.… Read More

David Cameron’s right about Multiculturalism BUT…

This past weekend David Cameron pushed forward considerably ideas his predecessors Tony Blair and Gordon Brown had been moving progressively towards …. In essence, this is to say pretty explicitly that, if you want to be British, you need to buy into the British identity and British values. (Ironically, freed from the collective responsibility of Cabinet, Blair on these issues is almost certainly well to the right of Cameron these days – see: ‘Radical Islam’ and the Return of Tony Blair). Cameron criticised ‘state multiculturalism’ and argued the UK needs a stronger national identity to stop people turning to extremism. With MI6 warning last week that Britain faces an “‘unstoppable wave of home-grown suicide bombers”, Cameron could hardly have ignored the threat from radicalised young Muslims; and it seems logical to ascribe their lack of identification with ‘British values’ as one cause of their radicalisation. In his speech on Saturday (5 February) Cameron accused multiculturalism of leading to a Britain of ‘divided tribes’. The prime minister posited that the multiculturalist dogma, which increasingly dominated political and social thinking from the early 1970s on, had meant the majority had to accord each minority ethnic group respect and the freedom to pursue its… Read More

Could Bernard Jenkin and Iain Duncan Smith be 2nd Tier thinkers?

Maybe there is some hope of 2nd Tier thinking emerging amongst UK politicians….? I was greatly heartened yesterday to hear Bernard Jenkin, on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme call for strategic thinking to create a “deep and sustained analysis of what kind of country we want to be in 10 or  20 years time.” Jenkin, Chair of the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC), was being interviewed about the Committee’s report, ‘Who does UK National Strategy?’, published mere hours before the first part of the Government’s Strategic & Security Defence Review. The Committee’s report suggested there was a tendency for Whitehall to “muddle through”. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars were cited as examples where there had been a lack of over-arching strategy. The report also warned that the UK’s capacity to think strategically had been undermined by assumptions that its national interests are best served by its relationship with the US and economic links within the European Union – “Uncritical acceptance of these assumptions has led to a waning of our interests in, and ability to make, national strategy,” Unfortunately Foreign Secretary William Hague attempted to make political capital from the report, saying it showed a “chronic lack of strategic thinking in Britain’s… Read More

‘Radical Islam’ and the Return of Tony Blair

Wow, Tony Blair sure is back in the news in a BIG way! First the Gordon Brown-bashing memoirs, then having eggs and shoes thrown at him in Dublin on Saturday and being a star guest yesterday on the inaugural showing of the new breakfast programme, Daybreak. And, of course, in the Sunday Telegraph both he and Brown were bashed by former Chief of the General Staff General Sir Richard Dannatt for failing to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq adequately. (Dannatt was in uncompromising mood, blaming Blair and Brown explicitly and personally for needless deaths.) Perhaps the most interesting set of comments to emerge from the seemingly endless round of interviews the former prime minister has conducted were those to do with ‘radical Islam’ and the threat that would be posed by a nuclear Iran. Talking about radical Islam in general, he described it to ABC News as “…the religious or cultural equivalent of [Communism] and its roots are deep, its tentacles are long and its narrative about Islam stretches far further than we think into even parts of mainstream opinion who abhor the extremism but sort of buy some of the rhetoric that goes with it.” Blair told the… Read More

‘Liberal Conservatives’: new politics?

The first day of the Tory/Lib Dem coalition we had Nick & Dave: the Love-In in the Rose Garden which more than a few commentators likened to a wedding, such was the bonhomie and adoring gazes between the principals. Yesterday we had Vince Cable, the Lib Dems’ voice of sensible moderation, and William Hague, the conservative of the Conservatives, sharing the walk along Downing Street to David Cameron’s first cabinet meeting. Not to mention the bizarre spectacle of Lib Dem anti-nuclear spokesperson Chris Huhne taking charge of implementing the Tories’ plans to build more nuclear power stations! Today, of course, Cameron’s at war with a number of his own backbenchers over the intention to fix the level at which Parliament can be dissolved prematurely at a vote of 55% of the House of Commons (up from a simple majority of 51% and making it that much more difficult to get rid of them). At least the Lib Dems are only being berated for this ‘stitch up’ by members of another party (Labour)! Undoubtedly the week since the general election results were declared has been one of the most interesting in modern British politics! The 55% no-confidence level stitch-up is, in fact, a key plank… Read More

Why is the West ignoring a Leading Moderate Muslim?

Are Western leaders and the Western media missing a critical opportunity to exacerbate the divisions in our Muslim communities, between the minority who advocate the use of terrorism to achieve the establishment of an Islamic hegemony and the majority who do not support such tactics and may even abhor them…? For about 5 hours on 2 March it was hot news: Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, a leading Islamic scholar, had issued a detailed 605-page fatwa against suicide bombings and terrorism. He said that terrorism cannot be justified under any pretext through allusion to any real or alleged instances of injustice and there is no space for terrorism in Islam. He regretted the fact that the Islamic teachings, which are based on love, peace and welfare, are being manipulated and quoted out of context to serve the designs of vested interests (such as al-Qaeda). He said that Islam spelled out a clear code of conduct during the course of war and gave complete protection to non-combatants including women, the old, children, etc – with trading centres, schools, hospitals and places of worship deemed to be ‘safe places’. Ul-Qadri’s fatwa is far from being the first to condemn terrorism. As a reaction to 9/11, just days… Read More