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Stanley Milgram authority experiment
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| Words: 425 | Submitted: 03-May-2011
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DescriptionAn experiment by stanley milgram to see how far people can be pushed by authority figures
Stanley Milgram Essay (1)
My reaction to the experiment is that the people who inflicted pain on the unwilling participants did so because of the direct presence of the authority figure, in this case the experimenter. The men and women involved in the experiment, come from a background of a ‘respect your elders’ moral code. With that mindset, most of the participants would not openly defy authority, simply because it is ingrained in their system to listen to the ‘expert’ who knows more about what’s going on than they do. It just seems logical. That logic most likely explains the ‘I’m just doing my job’ response when asked why they would continue to inflict ‘pain’ on the unwilling individuals.
As far as following orders goes, the line should be drawn when a person knows that whatever their orders are, if they are going to inflict physical or mental harm on the target of the orders, a person should have enough moral logic to realize that the orders shouldn’t be carried out. At the very least, one should question orders that they realize are going to cause some sort of pain to another human being. We are compassionate creatures that should win out over ‘just following orders’. Certain authority figures we are taught to respect right off the bat: policemen, teachers, our parents, even our president. Usually we are able to discern authority figures in different situations by figuring out who is the ‘expert’ or the one who has more knowledge of whatever situation we happen to be in. Complying with these sorts of figures usually results in desirable effects.
If the participants had already known each other before hand, there’s no doubt in my opinion that they’d show less conformity in these situations. If only because in the case of subjecting an anonymous face to some sort of pain, we as humans are apt to dismiss any guilt just because we didn’t know the person and it’s not really our fault. However, in the case of shocking an acquaintance or even a good friend, it’s more likely that if we were to readily inflict pain on them, we would rack up a lot of guilt because we do know who’s on the other side of that wall, and those screams and cries for help are going to tug at a heartstring. If something were to happen, we as humans would feel guilty because that’s someone we know.
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