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    Thought it would be interesting to hear opinions on this.

    Lets consider a hypothetical. If it were possible to take 1000 people considered to be 'evil' who committed terrible crimes such as murder during their lives and rewind time to when they were born. The 1000 people are then born and raised by strong, caring parents who provide positive role models and instil good values in the individuals.

    It is reasonable to assume that not all the 1000 would then go on to commit the terrible crimes they would have in their other reality.

    Factors like surroundings, socialisation, opportunities, the general situation and a strong support network make a big difference. The power of the situation has been shown in many sociological studies such as the 'Zimbardo prison experiment'.

    So considering the people deemed previously as 'evil' but who would not have committed these crimes if they had a better upbringing. Were they in fact 'evil' or are they simply a product of their environment? If they are simply a product of their environment does this change how society should punish/treat/rehabilitate them in regards to the crimes they have committed?

    To put it another way, you could take someone who has done a lot of great work in their life and significantly benefited society. If this person had been brought up alternate circumstances they may not have developed as well psychologically and then may have led a life deemed as 'evil' and committed heinous crimes. So were they indeed 'evil' or did society fail them? In the second example should a more compassionate rehabilitory approach be taken when dealing with them?
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    I agree, environmental factors play a significant role. There are no doubt people who have committed heinous crimes but they also have the ability to make a decision on whether to commit the crime or not. Unless there is an underlying reason, such as mental health problems, most people can differentiate between right and wrong and then make their choice. Surely if a person is able to make the choice and then carry out the crime, surely they should be punished according to the law. No one can say 100% whether that person would have behaved differently if they were nurtured differently. A case of nature v nurture. I love these kind of debates.
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    Well, according to research, psychopaths are born not bred:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/s...new-study.html
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    (Original post by kday)
    Unless there is an underlying reason, such as mental health problems, most people can differentiate between right and wrong and then make their choice.
    That is kind of my point, they may have mental health issues and those issues may well be as a result of their life experience so far. If they have been negatively socialised, had poor influences around them and encountered traumatic circumstances this could affect their mental health and lead them down a path they would otherwise never have traversed.

    To give an example, someone could be of a very pleasant disposition then they go out one night for a walk and are beaten by a group of people for no apparent reason. This could lead to the person being scared to go out and agoraphobic behaviour developing coupled with a deep distrust of people. They may then go out carrying a weapon and be approached by an aggressive individual or group and be so scared they stab one of them to death.

    This is obviously not a behaviour or reaction I would advocate but this could well be the path some people might take. Now if we assume the person would have continued their life in a relatively 'happy' manner if they had not been beaten in the first place...

    Did society fail to protect them?
    Did society fail to treat their mental health problem that resulted from the beating?
    Is there a duty like with other health issues to 'treat' rather than punishment.
    Is there a case to rehabilitate rather than punish?
    Should they be both treated/rehabilitated and also punished?
    Or should they simply be punished?

    That is an example of one event that could drastically alter someone's life path and how they are viewed by society, when someone's socialisation throughout their entire life and countless events are considered the difference it makes is monumental.

    I would also say that our own notions of what is 'right and wrong' and massively developed via our socialisation and therefore depend greatly on the situation we exist/are brought up in.

    (Original post by kday)
    I love these kind of debates.
    Agreed, so many factors to consider and different points of view to account for
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    (Original post by imtelling)
    Well, according to research, psychopaths are born not bred:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/s...new-study.html
    This is one study though dealing with one condition and does not really prove anything.

    Even in dealing with this example, studies have shown that if people adopt a more positive disposition, the neural pathways establish new connections and brain activity can then be measured in areas that were relatively dormant previously. In other words it has been shown that positive thinking can lead to the brain physically rewiring itself. If this is true then it seems reasonable to presume the same rewiring could take place regarding negative brain development via socialisation and lead to physical pathological development within the neural pathways and result in psychopathic mental health issues.

    I do not have the study I mentioned to hand but it was mentioned in a 'positive psychology' lecture at Harvard University and is available on youtube. It was delivered by Tal Beh Shahar.
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    (Original post by markyb76)
    This is one study though dealing with one condition and does not really prove anything.

    Even in dealing with this example, studies have shown that if people adopt a more positive disposition, the neural pathways establish new connections and brain activity can then be measured in areas that were relatively dormant previously. In other words it has been shown that positive thinking can lead to the brain physically rewiring itself. If this is true then it seems reasonable to presume the same rewiring could take place regarding negative brain development via socialisation and lead to physical pathological development within the neural pathways and result in psychopathic mental health issues.

    I do not have the study I mentioned to hand but it was mentioned in a 'positive psychology' lecture at Harvard University and is available on youtube. It was delivered by Tal Beh Shahar.

    The difference between psychopaths and normal people is that psychopaths lack empathy. Lots of psychopaths are brought up in perfectly nice environments and it doesn't change this.

    I agree nurture plays a role in behaviour, but you can't deny nature plays a role in behaviour either. To what extent nurture trumps nature is up for debate.
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    (Original post by imtelling)
    The difference between psychopaths and normal people is that psychopaths lack empathy.
    I know It is pretty well documented though that individuals can 'develop psychopathic tendencies'. They may or may not have had a heightened disposition to developing these tendencies but they did indeed develop. If they developed then sure it is up for debate but I would argue that they were not born and definitely going to develop these tendencies. Their environment may well have brought these to the fore and a different environment may have resulted in a totally different outcome for the individual concerned where these tendencies played no part.

    It is also dangerous to look at a "perfectly nice environment" and say look there are psychopaths there so developing psychopathic tendencies has nothing to do with environment, it must be inherent.

    For all we know if the same group had been brought up in a not so 'nice area' there could have been countless more people deemed as suffering these mental health issues. The severity could also be altered.

    The same way saying something like 'I acted and talked nice to someone and I tried to understand their problems but they are still suffering from depression!' So what was the point? The point might be that without this they would have killed themselves. Without a control group it is hard to know the affect the environment has actually had.

    (Original post by imtelling)
    I agree nurture plays a role in behaviour, but you can't deny nature plays a role in behaviour either.
    I would agree.

    (Original post by imtelling)
    To what extent nurture trumps nature is up for debate.
    Couldn't agree more hence the post
 
 
 
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