Obedience To Authority: The Positive Results of Unethical Testing
Ethics involves identifying what matters and how best to act on it. Obedience is an essential part of society and society demands followers as well as leaders in order to function. When obedience functions well, it offers a sense of direction and can enlarge participation of its members. Obedience, however, as with every human action, is subject to abuse. With that, I will lend some weight to the virtue of obedience because obedience is related to human choice.We choose whether or not to obey and this obedience can lead to good or evil. I do not think that obedience is virtuous without the use of caution or consideration, though. Given that we are always obedient to a higher authority and cannot simply obey ourselves in all matters, obedience needs carefulness in order to be virtuous. Thus, obedience testing and the unethical actions of those in society who are the subject of the obedience testing directly relates to human values. That is not to say that individuals cannot, on their own, use reason in the absence of an authority. This is an important counter-argument that is inherent in this paper. Human agency is the capacity for human beings to make choices and it is worth mentioning that this autonomy and self-legislating nature can be a source of authority in itself.One stark difference that will be noted in the classic obedience examples cited in this paper is the notion of informed consent. You will see that though informed consent was not the basis for all the historical accounts, it was given much consideration in the two experiments carried out by psychologists Stanley Milgram (1961) and Philip Zimbardo (1971). As such, those two experiments lie at the heart of this paper and will demonstrate to the reader that under the context of research enterprise, these experiments can be justified under the utilitarian view. This view allows for the sacrifice of one for the seemingly greater good. The dynamic of the one who exercises authority over another and the one who adapts to this exertion of power are at the center of human values and will converge with this paper.
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