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Crime, Punishment and Free Will

Several criminological theories based on the degrees to which people act according to free will or other determining factors may help to explain Stan, Kyle, Kenny and Cartman's actions. Essentially, criminological theories run along a continuum from social contract theory, which relies entirely on notions of free will, to determinism, which argues that people's actions are controlled entirely by genetic, environmental and other factors outside of their control. This essay examines these boys' actions and concludes that their actions reflect both social contract/rational choice theory and determinism. Consequently, the paper contemplates that different punishments would be appropriate for the boys and the success of these punishments will depend on the extent to which they, in fact, address the causative factors of the boys' criminality.

One might wonder why Kenny and Kyle turned out to be criminals when their triplet Stan did not. Moreover, why did Kyle, who was raised in the same environment as Stan, commit a criminal act and Stan did not? As two of a set of triplets, Kyle and Stan share much of their genetic information. Many scientific research studies have found a correlation between shared genes and shared "antisocial behaviors." For example, the Minnesota Twin Study surveyed 542 families consisting of 17-year-old identical or fraternal twins and their biological parents (Hick, Krueger, Iacono, McGue & Patrick 1). The study found evidence of a genetic transmission of "a general vulnerability to externalizing disorders," i.e., a tendency to engage in "antisocial" behaviors such as behavior misconduct, substance abuse, and other external behaviors, in such families. In other words, in many of the twins, when one twin exhibited antisocial behavior, so did the other (Hick, Krueger, Iacono, McGue & Patrick 1).

The study also found an increased likelihood for the twins to exhibit similar specific external behaviors, such as alcoho...

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Crime, Punishment and Free Will. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 13:13, April 21, 2019, from