How (Some) Criminals are Made

22 Pages Posted: 18 Jun 2009 Last revised: 13 Jul 2009

Date Written: July 12, 2009


Some kids have bad luck. Kids who are abused, for example, tend to become abusers themselves. This is a brute sociological fact. Abused children are the unfortunate victims of poor antecedent and constitutive conditions that conduce to bad moral luck. In this paper, I hope to explain why this is the case, at least for some children, and (perhaps) especially for those who enter the world with low levels of monoamine oxidase type A (MAOA), a brain enzyme responsible for inhibiting neurotransmitters associated with aggression. I will also argue that individuals of this type (genetic predisposition (G)) coupled with abusive and/or neglectful early environments (E), have suffered from poor constitutive, antecedent, and circumstantial conditions that generate bad moral luck and, therefore, they are (a) less blameworthy than those who have not endured the combination of such conditions and (b) are, therefore, candidates for restorative justice: treatment and restorative justice for those who we know or prima facie should know suffer neurobiological deficits.

Suggested Citation

Blumoff, Theodore Y., How (Some) Criminals are Made (July 12, 2009). Available at SSRN: or

Theodore Y. Blumoff (Contact Author)

Mercer University School of Law ( email )

1021 Georgia Ave
Macon, GA 31201
United States

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