What To Do About Crime

by | Jun 16, 2020

The problem of crime, the traits that criminals have in common and their cultural origins.

In this 1995 lecture delivered at Boston’s Ford Hall Forum, philosopher Leonard Peikoff addresses the problem of crime, exploring the traits that criminals have in common and examining their cultural origins. Social scientists have sought to explain the dramatic rise in crime rates by reference to other cultural phenomena such as TV violence, drugs, poverty, peer pressure, and urbanization. Unsatisfied by these explanations, Peikoff takes a wider, philosophical perspective: “Perhaps, after all, you need to understand something about values and human nature in order to understand and cope with crime.”

Looking at the small minority of people who commit the vast majority of violent and serious crimes, such as rape, assault, murder, robbery and theft, Peikoff identifies five traits that these criminals have in common. Peikoff argues that criminals are ultimately motivated by the ideas they accept, and he ties the rising crime rate to widespread philosophical ideas that have permeated the culture. Concluding that major responsibility is attributable to “the humanities professors with tenure who built our crime-friendly culture,” Peikoff adds: “The solution is not midnight basketball, but daytime philosophy.”

Dr. Leonard Peikoff, a philosopher, is Ayn Rand's legal and intellectual heir. He was a close associate of Ayn Rand for thirty years, and today is the preeminent spokesman for her philosophy of Objectivism. He is author of Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand and The Ominous Parallels: The End of Freedom in America. His most recent book, The DIM Hypothesis: Why the Lights of the West Are Going Out, (2012) develops an hypothesis explaining the major trends in philosophy, literature, physics, education and politics throughout Western history.

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