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Obedience At Its Finest: Milgrams Study

1351 words - 6 pages

Would you harm another person against your better judgment just because someone of authority told you to? Stanley Milgam’s experiment of obedience was unique in that he wanted to find out if there was a link between obedience to authority and Nazi Germany by conducting an experiment that required one to shock someone else because they were told. The experiment, though slightly extreme, was effective despite what some might think in determining how someone reacts when given orders by an authority in a stressful situation. It is argued that his methods were unethical, that he should not have deceived the subjects, that he inflicted harm upon the subjects and did not do enough of a follow up, that his overall design was flawed, and that his reasons for the experiment did not apply to actual real-world situations; however, this is simply not the case because Milgram’s study was both effective and ethical for what he was trying to accomplish.
In order for this experiment to be successful, the participants had to be deceived. If Milgram would have explained the experiment to them before, the results would have been very different. Chances are that the subject wouldn’t have taken the authorities as seriously if they had known. When the authority would say things such as, “It is absolutely essential that we continue,” (Milgram, Perils, 63) “You have no other choice” (Milgram, Perils, 64) the subject might not find them intimidating because they knew their obedience is what was being tested. Some may think that they need to prove that they have free will and can resist because they are the subject of the experiment, but if they did not know what the focus was, they may have not had that ability. If someone knew the purpose of the experiment and was asked by an authority and to shock someone all the way to 450 volts, they would probably say absolutely not. But to place them into the situation without their knowledge of the study, they are much more likely to actually go all the way.
Though Baumrind’s article covered many issues she found with Milgrams experiment, the one she really dwelled on was the harm she believed was being inflicted on the subjects by the experiment itself. All harm that was caused other than the strokes were temporary and harmless. In the study no one was actually being shocked so there for no physical harm was actually being done intentionally. All the stress, anxiety, and strokes could have been avoided if the subject had just stopped when they felt they should. For the purpose of the experiment though, the authority was pushing for them to continue to see just how far they would go to please. Nevertheless, every subject had nothing holding them back from saying no except themselves. So due to the fact that the harm inflicted was actually from the subject themselves, there was no way for Milgram to protect them without defeating the purpose of the experiment entirely.
Furthermore, it was stated that Milgram did not do enough...

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