Summary of The Dilemma of Obedience
In the chapter "The Dilemma of Obedience" of the book Obedience to Authority : An Experimental View, Stanley Milgram explores the concept of obedience to authority, and why people cannot defy authority even the situation is totally conflicting with morality. He introduces his ideas by giving the definition of obedience, and mentions Nazi extermination as an instance of obedience, which contradicts with moral values. According to Milgram, obedience idiosyncratically binds humankind to systems of authority, and links the individual action to political purpose. In terms of observations, obedience accepted as an inveterate behavior inclination, and obeying a system of authority has been comprehended as a virtue, but Milgram questions what will happen if it serves for a malevolent cause.
Milgram also refers to humanists and conservative philosophers opinions to show philosophic and legal aspects of obedience. Conservative philosophers stand up for obeying rules even if the authority is malignant in order not to break down the structure of the society. On the other hand, humanists argue that the individual conscience must overrule the authority in a contradiction.
Milgram conducts an experiment to examine the act of obeying, and shows concrete instances. He pressures the subjects to behave in a way conflicting with morality. In the experiment, the experimenter orders the subject to give increasing electro shocks to an accomplice, when he makes an error in a learning session. The situation makes the subject
stressed and he hesitates about fulfilling the experimenter's orders. Desperation and the manifest suffering of the accomplice force the subject to stop the experiment; however, the legitimate authority orders him to continue. In this experiment, Milgram aims to investigate when people refuse to obey and defy authority in an explicitly contradictive situation.
Despite the stress and pressure on the subject, almost two-thirds of...