Law and the Biology of Rape: Reflections on Transitions

28 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2004

See all articles by Owen D. Jones

Owen D. Jones

Vanderbilt University - Law School & Dept. of Biological Sciences


This Article serves is a sequel to a previous Article: Sex, Culture, and the Biology of Rape: Toward Explanation and Prevention, 87 Cal. L. Rev. 827 (1999). Part I briefly considers the threshold question: why consider the behavioral biology of sexual aggression at all? Part II proposes that the first step in transitioning to a more accurate and more useful model of rape behavior is to avoid a number of common definitional ambiguities that plague most rape discussions. Because those ambiguities are particularly likely to foster misunderstandings about biobehavioral perspectives, Part II also clarifies the scope of what biobehavioral theories address. Part III proposes that the commonly tangled realm of rape theory be divided into two distinct (though in some contexts overlapping) realms: one of theories about the meanings of rape, and the other of theories about the causes of rape. Part IV proposes that causes of rape, in turn, be sorted into two kinds, the precise and necessary inter-relationship of which can be understood in a way that provides important and continuing utility for the ongoing research in both social science and life science perspectives on sexual aggression. Part V offers thoughts on two complexities arising from the transition to an integrated model of rape behavior.

Keywords: Rape, Biology, Evolutionary Analysis in Law, Behavioral Biology, Sexual Aggression

Suggested Citation

Jones, Owen D., Law and the Biology of Rape: Reflections on Transitions. Available at SSRN:

Owen D. Jones (Contact Author)

Vanderbilt University - Law School & Dept. of Biological Sciences ( email )

131 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203-1181
United States


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