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A very questioning article..How to stop genocide?

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undergroundpanther Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-10-06 11:40 AM
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A very questioning article..How to stop genocide?
Proponents of MEP systematically ignore the potentially
positive role of liberal political institutions and democratic
culture in preventing genocide

inflicting severe pain as they were being instructed to do.
Some explicitly said they thought it was wrong and asked
for the experiment to stop. Thus, most subjects, whether
obedient or disobedient, showed care and concern for the
welfare of the learner who was being shocked (pp. 155‐157).
Finally, the learners for whose welfare the subjects showed
genuine concern were anonymous strangers who fell
ʺoutside their familial and communal circles,ʺ thus satisfying
the Olinersʹ definition of having an extensive (that is,
strongly altruistic) personality.

Despite all these features that, according to MEP and common preconceptions, should have led to high levels of disobedience, large percentages of Milgramʹs subject were fully obedient in several variations.
Other investigators have replicated Milgramʹs findings with
subjects drawn from different populations (e.g. German
students, young children, and workers in a hospital),
sometimes with even higher levels of obedience (Miller,
1986, chap. 4). Thus, there seems to be no way to avoid the
conclusion reached by Milgram: the presence of an authority
figure can be an extremely powerful situational factor that
for a large majority of individuals overrides their genuine
(often strong) altruistic concern, sympathy, and feelings of
obligation not to harm the learner/victim.

If there was anything that Milgramʹs fully obedient
subjects lacked it was definitely not moral virtues such as
altruism or conscientious feelings of obligation not to harm
others, as proponents of MEP might contend. The virtues
they lacked are quite distinct from the virtues of altruism.

Maslach (2000) asks her reader to suppose that Milgramʹs
cover story was in fact the truth, and that he or she was the
first of a thousand subjects (approximately the number
Milgram used) who participated in an actual use of high‐
voltage shocks to study learning:

If you disobeyed, refused to continue, got paid,
and left silently, your heroic action would not
prevent the next 999 participants from experi‐
encing the same distress. It would be an
isolated event without social impact unless it
included going the next step of challenging the
structure and assumptions of the research. (p.

None of Milgramʹs disobedient subjects challenged
the authority beyond a refusal to continue administering
shocks. Satisfied with minimal passive resistance, they made
no inquiry into the legitimacy of the experiment as a whole,
nor did they threaten to take any action to prevent injury to
other subjects. They just wanted out. Thus, their disobedi‐
ence, which was strikingly individualistic and apolitical, far
from providing an exemplary model of active resistance that
might help prevent genocide, further confirms the suspicion
that altruism alone is insufficient for that task.

Hmm food for thought...
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Sinti Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-10-06 01:25 PM
Response to Original message
1. Altruism does not equate to a willingness to challenge the status quo
Few people are willing to stand toe-to-toe with a given authority and challenge them, regardless of their negative impact on society. Most of us are taught from a very young age that it's wrong to do so, their rights and powers are greater than yours, that's how it is, therefore, that's how it should be. Sad, isn't it?
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undergroundpanther Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-10-06 03:13 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Yeah it is
Sad we get conditioned that way. It's sickening.
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