The power of authority: how easily we do what we’re told

Milgram's experiment is rightly famous, but does it show what we think it does?

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  • In the 1960s, Stanley Milgram was sure that good, law-abiding Americans would never be able to follow orders like the Germans in the Holocaust.
  • His experiments proved him spectacularly wrong. They showed just how many of us are willing to do evil if only we're told to by an authority figure.
  • Yet, parts of the experiment were set up in such a way that we should perhaps conclude something a bit more nuanced.
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What did Hannah Arendt really mean by the banality of evil?

The banality-of-evil thesis was a flashpoint for controversy.

Can one do evil without being evil?
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Why are some psychopaths 'successful'? It may depend on one personality trait

What makes some psychopaths better able to control their antisocial tendencies?

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  • Researchers have long struggled to explain the stark differences in life outcomes of psychopaths.
  • A new study suggests that the personality trait conscientiousness helps psychopaths develop impulse-control skills over time.
  • However, this process seems to apply only to individuals who score high in certain psychopathic traits.
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What are the chances that God is actually good?

Philosophy professor James Sterba revives a very old argument.

Photo by Motoki Tonn on Unsplash
  • In his book, Is a Good God Logically Possible?, James Sterba investigates the role of evil.
  • Sterba contends that if God is all-powerful then he'd be able to stop evil from occurring in the world.
  • God's inability (or unwillingness) to stop evil should make us question his role, or even his existence.
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10 quotes that prove humanity is absurd

We live in contradiction. How we confront that fact matters.

  • Absurdism is the philosophical school that recognizes the tension between meaning and a meaningless universe.
  • Camus and Kierkegaard wrote extensively on the topic, though modern thinkers continue to contribute to the literature of the Absurd.
  • In a politically divided time, the Absurd has come to the forefront of national discussion.
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