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Several Criminological Theories

Stan, therefore, would serve as a complication in the determinists' argument for Kenny and Kyle. On the other hand, Stan would fit very neatly into the rational choice theorists' arguments about deviance and criminality.

Rational choice theory argues that criminals act out of personal choice. It is rooted in the theories of human behavior developed by early classical theorists Cesare Beccaria and Jeremy Bentham (Keel 1). Essentially, rational choice theory contends that human beings are rational actors; they perform a cost-benefit analysis of their potential actions, whereby they calculate the pleasure versus pain outcomes of their possible actions (Keel 1). In other words, they calculate what means they are willing to use to achieve what ends and with what consequences. The theory contends that most of human behavior, conforming and deviant, is based on such rational calculations (Keel 1). Thus, like social contract theory, rational choice theory maintains that when faced with a choice, people take into consideration "the potential pain or punishment that will follow an act judged to be in violation of the social good, the social contract" (Keel 1).

Rational choice theory, at least the part of it that explains why people commit crimes, seems to explain why Cartman committed the burglary. As noted above, rational choice theory is based on the classical social contract theory, which assumes that people's actions are hedonistic or, more generally, in their own self-interest (Hoffman 1). People weigh the possible negative consequences of their actions against this self-interest against when they perform their pleasure/pain rationalization. Cartman burglarized Mr. Garrison's home because he enjoyed tormenting Mr. Garrison. Cartman, therefore, gained significant pleasure from the idea of the burglary and this pleasure outweighed the possible negative consequences.

Notably, both the social contract and rational choice theories assume ...

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