Week 12: Authority and Obedience


Activity 1: You and authority

  • What is authority?
  • Who are the authority figures in your life?
  • Do you always listen to them?
  • Should we always listen to authority figures?
  • If an authority figure tells you to do something, are you still responsible for that action?

Activity 2: Obey all orders?

Adolf Eichmann was a Nazi war criminal who played a big role in the extermination of Jews during World War II. In his defense, he said that he didnt have a choice, that he was following orders. Do you think he is responsible for his actions? Or is it his superiors?

Activity 3: The Milgram Obedience Study.

Watch this YouTube video and take notes: what is the Milgram obedience study and what were the results?

Activity 4: Think about this:

  • Think about a time in your life when you obeyed someone else and did something you later came to regret.
  • Imagine that you are a participant in Milgram’s study of obedience. What would you have done if you refused to obey the orders and the experimenter in charge answered, “The experiment requires that you continue”?
  • What could you do in general to make it less likely to obey an authority figure who’s telling you to do something that isn’t morally right?
  • Are there situations in your life that might force you to obey authority figures even when you shoudn’t?

Activity 5: Other examples of blind obedience.

Have you seen the movie “Compliance”? Watch the trailer here:

The movie is based on a true story. Watch some of all of the video below for more information:

What connections can you make between the Milgram Obedience Study and the Donna Summers and Louise Ogborn incident? How are they similar? How are they different?

Activity 6: Read about authority and obedience.

Read an article on authority and obedience by Robert Wolff–AND/OR listen to the reading here:

Activity 7: Refresher: authority fallacy

Do you remember the authority fallacy from week 9? Here is a refresher:

Activity 8: Take quiz 6 (or is it 5?) on Blackboard.

Take the authority and obedience quiz on Blackboard.