It was 1974 when a famous psychologist by the name of Stanley Milgram published a masterpiece called, Obedience to Authority. A quarter of a century later, in July of 1999 Theodore Dalrymple, a British physician wrote “Just do what the pilot tells you” illustrating the dangers of unthinking obedience as well as reminding us of those special occasions when it’s best to do what we are told.
Obedience to Authority became a horrifying novel which showed that with the presence of an authority figure, people were willing to do unspeakable acts. Milgram’s studies showed that almost two-thirds of the subjects were willing to hurt a complete stranger just because they were told to.
Using Milgram’s principle Theodore shows that under certain situations granting brief authority is necessary. For example, in one of his experiences as Theodore was flying to Dublin, he describes how all passengers have granted authority to the pilot whether they liked it or not.
Most people consider authority figures to be the complete enemy and believe standing up against authority is heroic. In “just do what the pilot tells you,” Theodore explains how blind disobedience starts from childhood. it’s parental raising that triggers problems with the superior. Dalrymple shows that, it is blind disobedience that makes people live miserable lives because they can’t handle taking orders from teachers, employers, police officers and so on.
In conclusion, if modern ethical standards had been held during Milgram’s
experiment, we might have never known the true answers because the test wouldn’t have been done. Based on Milgram’s experiment and Theodore’s exclusive article, they both came to the conclusion that obedience and disobedience to authority both hold many dangers. Beyond all, understanding authority can change how one can live their life.