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The Impact Of Situation Toward Individual’s Behavior

1500 words - 6 pages

William Shakespeare, one of the most beloved British poet and playwright, says in his play Hamlet, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” The author thinks that there is no such a thing like an absolute ethical standard, and that ethical standards are set by human beings. Given the context, moral standards are various upon the people’s viewpoints of the situations that they encounter. Even if people learn about moral standards and legal obligations during the long course of their education, their rigid standpoints are fallible to the situations involving spontaneous human nature of “obedience to authority,” (Fromm 685) as a “social animal.”(Cohen)
Human beings are ...view middle of the document...

It corresponds to Aristotle’s statement that human being is basically “a social animal.” (Cohen) Since people live in a society, they are not likely to maintain their own idea of morality when social force controls the people’s behaviors, due to the fear of being punished by authority and being excluded from society.
This human nature of obedience to social force is a double-edged sword. Mostly, it plays a positive role in establishing consensus and harmony among people in a society, if the social force is on the right track. Once a situation is set by strong social force to people, they tend to make homogeneous decisions because of “authoritarian conscience”. This is the first and foremost reason why societies could have been constructed all over the world. If people denied following the voice of social force, the society could not have been established because all legal obligations and educations can have power, only if people comply with the rules. However, if the social force makes bad use of this influence, jeopardy that the society can be distorted by an authority’s manipulation could sprout. Stanley Milgram, a psychologist at Yale University, conducted an experiment about the impact of the situation accompanied with strong social force to the ordinary subjects. Milgram designed the situation in which the subjects had to confront their inner turmoil; if the subjects follow the order, they would bring about other people’s pain. Milgram wanted to know which is the stronger factor: the sympathy of the subjects, along with the moral standards that the ordinary subjects hold; or the desire of adaptation to social force by following orders from authority. Milgram selected the subjects from diverse range of people from middle-class office workers to college students, who were not mentally impaired and lived normal lives. The experiment sets up the subjects as teachers, who were authorized to punish their students without holding any responsibility, if the student’s answer was not correct, in accordance with the teacher’s questions. The student was captivated in a voltage chair, and by not being able to give a correct answer to any question, he or she would receive electric shocks from 15 volts to 450 volts from his/her teacher. More than 150volts can give serious pain to the student, and more than 285 volts can give him/her a fatal health consequence. The students were part of the experimenters group: they acted as if they got real pain from a voltage chair, even if they did not. The teacher could imagine how painful the voltage was, because they were given a sample of 45volts shock from the voltage chair. During the experiment, when the teachers were reluctant to give more shocks to the students, the experimenter group strongly convinced the teachers that the teachers are not responsible for the consequence of punishment. Milgram assumed that no more than 4 percent of people would deliver more than 300volts shock, and reaching the highest...

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