This is also why we’ll never be able to find the final answer as to how to ensure ethics are maintained in every setting, research program, experiments, schools, etc..
Ethics is also the very point where I think some people get wrongly diagnosed as psychopaths or sociopaths.
The mistake is being made because there are the rare individual who does have certain things in common with psychopaths – on a superficial level, that is.
But again – and as I stated in one of my earliest comments – sociopathy and psychopathy are diagnoses designed by and for society in it’s present form … a society that bases it values upon the notion of maintaining status quo, or enhancing a status quo.
Any somewhat intelligent person with a mediocre level of schooling will know that this isn’t possible. But it’s convenient and gives mainstream society a scapegoat when things begin to change, because change hurts.
Right off I would say I agree with you (M.E.) in that it certainly is best, and good, to provide means by which people can learn about their own nature, and specifically in this case, about some of the ugly sides to their nature.
But because of the ethical perspective, I can’t say for sure that I believe people will actually learn even when confronted in such a direct way as in the Milgram Experiment.
There is much that speaks for it being a fact that people generally learn only when they experience things on a personal level, and we can’t put a high enough number of individuals through such an experiment to produce that result.
Furthermore, people will always return to the beliefs that their society enforces. And no society enforces a conscious awareness of being capable of doing what is commonly agreed to be evil or bad. No society will do this, because it will represent a weakness in times where exceptions call for exceptional behavior.
If you have a public with strong ethics, you have a society with an enormous weakness. This is why Ethics are generally speaking reserved for the ‘higher classes’ (or the “leading class” … in old times ‘The Aristocracy’).
An ethical person is hard to control and he’ll not follow rules or laws just because they’re rules and laws. But it is essential for society as a whole that the majority of people DO follow rules and laws, and that is what we have Morals for.