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  • asked in Natural Sciences 30th Mar '16:

    In reference to the criminal mind, what progress has been made in finding crime genes?.

    Mark Featherstone replied 6th Apr '16:

    As a Sociologist, I think this question indicates a problem with the way we think about human behaviour - i.e., that it is somehow genetic, or defined by brain chemistry that is entirely sealed off from the outside world, rather than social and environmental in origin. My view would be that the real question should concern how criminal behaviour is defined by environmental factors in the family and wider society which in the long run may result in changes in brain function / chemistry. My view would be that this is a better avenue for exploration than the search for criminal genes, which would be very difficult to defend, simply because crime itself is socially constructed on the basis of socially defined norms / values around legality and so on. In other words, it would not be possible to define a criminal gene because this suggests biological origin, when crime, and for that matter law, are social constructions and in no way natural categories. My answer to the question would, therefore, be that there can't be progress in the discovery of a criminal gene and if somebody suggests otherwise, I would be very suspicious of the findings since this would suggest somebody has naturalised categories of crime and legality in order to give these a genetic basis.

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