Obedience to Authority

1250 WordsFeb 23, 20105 Pages
Obedience to Authority No human social organization can function without some degree of obedience to authority, as the alternative would be anarchy leading to total chaos. Hence we find some sort of a hierarchy in both the most underdeveloped and the most civilized societies where certain individuals exercise authority over others. Almost everyone will agree that some degree of authority in certain individuals or groups (and their obedience by other groups) is desirable for the proper functioning of a society. The problem arises when the obedience to authority is taken to extremes. Unfortunately, history has shown that this happens time and again, usually with undesirable results. It is this blind obedience to authority that…show more content…
In this context he observes “among our most shameful memories is—how often we said black was white because other people were saying it.” (“Fromm,” On Disobedience…) Jo’ana Meyer is a sociologist at the Rutger’s University who has carried out valuable research on children’s susceptibility to leading and suggestive interviews in the context of court testimony. She has discussed the effects of stress, prompting and imagination on children’s memories and powers of recall. She stresses the importance of Milgram’s research and points out that children are likely to obey authority at an even higher level than the adults in Milgrim’s experiments. Meyer has made important suggestions about ways to interview children that would increase the accuracy of their testimony. (“Meyer’” Inaccuracies in Children’s….). The theme of obedience to authority has even greater significance in the military environment. The issue has been explored in the recent popular cinema through films such as The General’s Daughter and more significantly in the 1999 court-room drama A Few Good Men. The film, starring Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson, presents both sides of the need for absolute obedience versus the right of individual conscience in the military. The issue of following orders versus human rights in the military has been intelligently handled. The film does not treat the issue in a one-sided or black and white manner but gives both sides of the subject. (“A Few
Open Document