For example, this question asks about this quote:

Although criminal behavior expresses general needs and values, it is not excused by those general needs and values, because noncriminal behavior expresses the same needs and values.

Some of criminology certainly overlaps with law, but what about the more behavioural aspects? Why do criminals behave the way they do? What effect does a certain legal policy have on crime? Why has society decided to not excuse certain criminal behaviour because of the defendant's particular needs and values?

To what extent (if at all) is criminology on topic here?

1 Answer 1


The best answer to the question of whether such queries are on topic is, "Yes, if they are amenable to an answer that references law or the application of law (past or present)."

This is unfortunate because it requires acting on an unknown: Until such an answer is supplied one can't be sure one exists. In the case of the question cited in the OP I would wager that it is off-topic by this criterion and I would therefore vote to close it. But I can't rule out the possibility that someone can provide an answer that shows it is in fact on-topic. (NB: This argument is similar to an early proposal I made that was not enthusiastically received, which is to take a good answer as evidence that a question should not be closed.)

Questions about why the law is the way it is, or what the law should be are not on topic, and are often referred to Politics.SE.

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