Chaos of Structure: the Importance of Deviance in Moral Conformity

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Chaos of Structure: the Importance of Deviance in Moral Conformity

By | June 2008
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CHAOS OF STRUCTURE: THE IMPORTANCE OF DEVIANCE IN MORAL CONFORMITY Stephanie Lane Sutton

Humans are social animals. As people, we live in countless social structures, placing a strong emphasis on human relationships. As a society, we tend to separate ourselves from other animals, emphasizing intelligence and moral values. Most sociobiologists would chalk this up to a biological predisposition toward a structure of morals which isn’t consistent in other creatures – indeed, this moral structure has, seemingly through natural selection, encouraged us to build strong relationships in both family and work environments. However, it is likely that these moral structures are completely fabricated through social interaction alone.

After the Holocaust during World War II, Stanley Milgram set out to test morality of humans, hypothesizing that Germans were less moral and more likely to be submissive to authority. He did this by constructing an experiment in which the unknowing test subject would be made to believe that they were distributing painful electric shocks with steadily increased intensity to another person, while an authoritative figure pressured them on. He planned to conduct this study with both Americans and Germans. Milgram and many other sociologists hypothesized that most American subjects would not continue to distribute shocks after they became aware that the victim was in pain. Instead, they found that 65% of the subjects distributed the highest 450 volt shock, and no subject halted the experiment before the 300 volt shock. This experiment disproves a human predisposition to moral values while proving that human interaction is purely social – that people are bred into submission and, therefore, into social structures. Indeed, starting with the family structure and reinforced in kindergarten, people are raised to respond to authority.

This experiment also calls into question the actual value of human moral and social structures, while...
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