Essay on Research on the Power of Authority

Essay on Research on the Power of Authority

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The mental operations which we have thus far described find the culmination of their development in the process which we know reasoning. This does not mean that reasoning is a totally new form of physical activity, to which the others subordinate. It means that in the process of reasoning the full implication and significance of these other conscious processes come clearly to light, while in it, they reach their completed evolution. Moreover, it does not mean that reasoning is a form of process which appears only after the other processes which we have studied, have been developed (Angell, J.R. 2002).
Summarizing his feelings to a colleague, Milgram pronounced the results "terrifying and depressing." For a democratic country, he somberly observed, "A substantial proportion of people do what they are told to do, irrespective of the content of the act, and with- out pangs of conscience, so long as they perceive that the command comes from a legitimate authority ( Baltimore Jewish Times, 2009).
Stanley Milgram's experiments on obedience to authority-sometimes referred to as the "shock" studies-are the most influential and controversial in modern social psychology. They have affected fields as varied as law, business, medicine and the military. Plays, films and songs have been based on the experiments, and well known authors such as Doris Lessing and Arthur Koestler have written about them at length. Within academic social psychology, it would be difficult to overestimate their impact. In social psychology textbooks, a significant study is usually described in just a couple of sentences, or at most a paragraph, but the obedience experiments nearly always receive pages of coverage.The obedience studies indelib...

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... practices. Sometimes the will of the people undermines itself with a desire for order that results in wanting someone else to take the reigns. In the West, we tend to have a healthy suspicion of authority precisely because of this tendency of established legitimate authority not to remain under the control of the will of the people. Authority has a tendency to disconnect itself from the will of the people, and the will of the people tends to have trouble asserting itself in opposition to authority. In this section of the paper, I will refine the definitions of authority and authoritarianism with the help of Hannah Arendt and others, and show that they are not as distinct as we might like to think. If the link between authority and authoritarianism is too close for comfort, perhaps the value of authority should be put into question as well (Eagan, Jennifer, 2007).

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