The Milgram Experiment and the Problem with Authority

The Milgram Experiment is one of those things in my moments of study that lead me to being anti-state. I remember learning about this experiment back in college, and it gave me insight into how people are when submitting to authority they support.


Arbitrary authority (as opposed to authority in a field of study, skill or occupation), whether rooted in religion or the state, is built on a foundation of emotional cowardice andImage result for milgram experiment a lack of ethics. People who think harming other individuals for the “greater good” can justify nearly anything. For example, taxation is ultimately theft and extortion, but if you believe in stealing from someone for a higher purpose, there is no shame in no longer calling it theft or extortion. What would otherwise be considered unethical and criminal then morphs into what is referred to as worthy, noble and civilized by calling it “taxation” and using phrases like “the price we pay for civilized society.” Because of this willing ignorance and deferral of ethical understanding to chosen authorities, politicians get to plunder what they want legally, so long as their empty promises are considered good enough by the majority who vote for and submit to them.



“In the end, they found that 90 percent of volunteers followed orders to inflict the highest level of shocks available – very similar to the amount of people in Milgram’s experiments who pushed the 10th button.


‘Half a century after Milgram’s original research into obedience to authority, a striking majority of subjects are still willing to electrocute a helpless individual,’ Grzyb concluded.


In 2014, a team went back over the Yale archives and found that, rather than participants feeling distressed by the experiments, they actually felt good about making an important contribution to science.


‘This provides new insight into the psychology of oppression and gels with other evidence that perpetrators are generally motivated, not by a desire to do evil, but by a sense that what they are doing is worthy and noble,’ explained one of the researchers, Alex Haslam from the University of Queensland, at the time.”



One Comment Add yours

  1. denpratt says:

    I don’t think we can over-emphasize the importance of the Milgram Experiment for the authoritarian-libertarian battle. So glad that you wrote about this.

    Are you familiar with The Problem of Political Authority by Huemer?

    It has a large section on Milgram, and it’s importance to AnCap (in addition being a most excellent book!!)

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