The Milgram experiment. We often listen to authoritative figures and do things we're uncomfortable doing, for what we hope will be result in a better good. For example, I don't think there's one parent who didn't feel terrible having to see their child go through the pain of chemotherapy, but they did/do go ahead with it regardless. They put their trust in doctors in that the pain is necessary to help get rid of the child's cancer. Can't that argument be made for the teachers in the Milgram experiment, where the teachers didn't blindly choose to hurt the subjects, but rather, they assumed that the study they were part of was done in the hopes of positive results which would be for the public's benefit (including that of the person getting zapped)?

You raise an interesting point: Usually, experiments such as Milgram's are used to cast doubt on the existence or durability of moral integrity and character. If otherwise ordinary individuals , those very unlikely to inflict potentially deadly electrical shocks, do so at the behest of an experimenter, then how can we say that people's moral dispositions are stable or deep seated? Milgram's experiment has been central to the emergence of situationism in moral psychology, the thesis that our moral choices and actions are influenced far less by facts about ourselves, including our own reasoning, and far more by situational factors, which are often irrelevant to the moral justifiability of our choices and actions.

Your thought (I take it) is that perhaps Milgram's experimental subjects were not influenced by irrelevant situational facts but were responding to a morally relevant consideration: the trust they put in the experimenters , to wit, that the experiment was not unethical. This strikes me as plausible. The fact of the matter is that trust is central to moral life. We often have to rely on others' assurance that what we are doing is ethically defensible. Indeed, it's hard to imagine moral life without this sort of trust. If so, then perhaps the experimental subjects were not betraying bad character. They might have too trusting of the experimenters. But in that case, Milgram may not have demonstrated that we are lacking in moral character but that others can abuse the trust that is indispensable to life in a moral community.

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