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May 10, 1985

Biology, Crime and Ethics: A Study of Biological Explanations for Criminal Behavior

Author Affiliations

Albert Einstein College of Medicine New York

JAMA. 1985;253(18):2758-2759. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03350420172040

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


Drs Frank H. Marsh and Janet Katz bring us, in a single volume, a number of impressive papers, perspectives, and positions, previously and independently published in different journals and books. Apparently their primary mission is to demonstrate that reducing highly complex issues of crime into unidimensional (biologic) causation would have serious negative consequences. The book starts with a foreword by E. D. Pellegrino, MD, and the anthologists deliver what they promise in the introduction.

The current resurgence of biologic explanations for human behavior has overreaching implications. Is criminality biochemically determined? Are we the instruments of our genes? What are the ethical dimensions and the responsibilities involved in attempting to alter the biochemical or genetic makeup of psychopaths?

This volume attempts to answer these and other questions by presenting recent investigations on aggression and crime as well as the methods of controlling human behavior and by exploring their legal and ethical