Type: Review
Pages: 5 | Words: 1215
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In “The Perils of Obedience”, Stanley Milgram clearly shows that obedience is an important aspect of human life, especially in the context of any structure of social life. As Stanley shows through his experiment, obedience is not something that can be demanded from a person. Obedience is more a personal choice rather than an enforced action. In any place where obedience exists, there must be an authoritative organ. Milgram considers authority to be present in every aspect of community life. When people live in the society, there must be a certain form of authority that must check activities of the members of the community. Due to the fact that authority must be present in the society, people should be responsible and obey the authority that is present in their context.

Stanley Milgram observes that adult human beings normally obey anything they are told by the authority which is over them. He wonders why adults must always obey everything that they are told by the authorities. So, to make sure that experiment is practical and understood, Milgram decides to place his subjects in a scenario where their values conflict each other. He takes three subjects, including a student, a teacher and an instructor and puts them in the experiment (Blass, 2004).

In “The Perils of Obedience”, Milgram states that the dilemma brought up by issues of obedience is not present in the modern day world. He states that the issues of authority and obedience started in ancient times as seen in the Bible. In addition, people like Plato commented on the issue with regard to instances where authoritative requirements conflict with personal conscience. Conservative philosophers argued in favor of obedience because they were of the judgment that disobedience to the authority threaten the harmony that societies should have. On the other hand, humanists claim emphasizes importance to the issues of individual conscience. They support the notion that when issues of obedience surpass or violate personal conscience, then individual must follow his conscience.

Milgram criticizes the legal and philosophical aspects of authority and obedience. His view is that, despite the fact that legal and philosophical aspects of disobedience are important in addressing the topic, they are very shallow because they do not address concrete issues about the behavior of people in different situations. This is the main reason why Milgram established his experiment because he wanted to address the shortcomings of philosophical and legal issues towards obedience and authority.

Stanley Milgram’s experiment is unique because it involves setting a situation of pain that is mostly ignored by legal and philosophical viewpoints. He sets up an experiment where he investigates how much pain a person may inflict on another person just because he has been told to do so. The authority given to the person is put against the subject’s morality of hurting other people. The instructor told the teacher that the test was a memory test where the learner was expected to answer all questions directly. However, in instances where the learner would fail a question, the teacher was supposed to shock the learner with a voltage, varying from 15 volts to 450 volts. The only way for the teacher to get out of the experiment was to disobey the instructor. In the experiment, Milgram asks people for predictions of the outcomes. Many respondents predicted that the teacher would perform the test but would not go past 150 volts. They also predicted that out of one thousand teachers, only one would reach 450 volts. The experiment did not offer any incentive. In addition, it did not compel or threaten the teacher to perform the experiment. Respondents tried to explain their answers by saying that all people have aggressive and violent behavioral traits. However, they were proved to be wrong when thirty-eight out of forty teachers stopped at the slight sight of pain.

Milgram’s experiment is important in addressing issues of obedience to authority in the society. All people tend to obey authority to certain extents in the society. In most cases, people obey the authority when they know that they can get positive feedbacks from it. There must be a certain reward that a person will get from his obedience in order to obey authority. However, when obedience does not contribute anything towards getting any kind of benefits of the person, then it becomes useless. Therefore, a person can choose to disobey (Blass, 2004).

Another concept of obedience, with respect to human behavior, is that when obedience works against the subject, there are high chances that the subject will rebel. For example, when a person is forced to obey an order that can negatively affect him, he will disobey that order. He can only obey the order when it is enforced or threatened with greater consequences. Therefore, obedience is a relative concept that depends on the circumstances at play when the obedience order is given by the authority. Obedience is an issue that involves decision making. A person has the responsibility to decide whether to obey or disobey orders.

In the real world situation, obedience is an issue that depends on several other issues that are important, to the involved subject. When pain is included in the process of obedience, the whole issue becomes different. This is brought up clearly in Milgram’s experiment. When people are put to obey orders that can hurt others, many of them disobey the authority. People cannot just decide to hurt other based on orders that they are given. They can agree to obey orders. However, when the order hurt others most people decide to obey the orders unless they are given incentives or are threatened. Milgram has shown that those in authority take advantage of other people’s obedience to make other people suffer. Therefore, it is important that people consider issues at hand before obeying or disobeying orders.

Stanley Milgram’s experiment shows human beings as people who obey orders based on situational analysis. Milgram’s experiment has become an essential topic of concern in psychology. Milgram has clearly demonstrated the dangers of obedience to authority. The experiment shows that variables brought by situations are stronger than personality factors in the determination of obedience. The experiment has shown clearly, that obedience as a human attribute is influenced by internal and external factors. It is human nature to avoid punishment. Therefore, when human beings are ordered to obey the authority to avoid punishment, they always obey. In the experiment, the teachers used as subjects of study are not obeying orders to avoid any punishment. Instead, they do what the instructor has ordered them to do. However, when they consider the effects of obeying the order they decide to ignore the order. This is important in the sense that it shows that human beings have the capability of looking at the consequences of their actions before they engage in those actions (Blass, 2004).

In conclusion, Milgram’s “The Perils of Obedience” is a piece that shows the dangers of obedience to authority. Through the experiment, he shows that people have the responsibility over their decisions on obedience. He has also shown that obedience can be affected by internal and external factors. The intrinsic value and external rewards that a person can get out determine the choices that a person can make with respect to obedience or disobedience. Milgram’s experiment is vital in understanding human nature.

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