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Article
May 3, 1884

THE PHYSICAL AND HEREDITARY NATURE OF VICE.

JAMA. 1884;II(18):477-479. doi:10.1001/jama.1884.02390410001001
Abstract

The question as to whether the basis of moral states, which find their expression in conduct, are to be sought for in existing brain activities, pathological or physiological, is one which is taking a more or less leading place in modern scientific thought.

Stripped of all its theological associations, and viewed solely from a scientific standpoint, to say nothing of its legal bearings, the question becomes one of no little importance.

Is there, then, a pathological or abnormal basis for vice to be found in the brain of the so-called criminal classes?

The first point of importance to be noted is the claim that, lying at the bottom of those perturbations of conduct which characterize these classes, and which constitute their chief or sole cause, is to be found a lack of proper brain development, and that this physical defect is the constant heritage of these classes, through hereditary transmission.

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