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Crime, Punishment and Justice

This course examines the ideal society in terms of several questions related to the causes of criminal activities and behaviors, the most effective ways to reduce the threat of crime in American society, and the philosophical underpinnings of Western notions of justice.  We will examine these questions from the literary, the philosophical, and the sociological perspectives. In particular, we will define criminal behavior as it contrasts the "good" society, using the ideas of Plato and Dr. Martin Luther King.  We will examine some of the causes of crime, especially the link between poverty and crime, psychological disorders and criminal behavior, and the influence of the media.  In answering the question, "What measures reduce crime?" we will examine punishment and rehabilitation.  Two novels, Tragic Flaws by Scott Evans and Camus' The Stranger, will allow us to examine these issues from both a philosophical and a literary perspective.  Dostoefsky's Crime and Punishment is recommended but not required.