Education and Obedience
This thesis addresses the fact that we often obey our perceived authorities to the point of immorality. Why do we obey? How does education affect obedience in either a good or bad way? Ought we always obey? If not, when is disobedience justified, and what creates the distinction between when we should obey or disobey? To address these questions, this thesis focuses on philosophy of education, and in particular how human nature and moral philosophy shape the ways in which we think about education. The way we educate students may contribute to the foundation for whether or not they will passively obey. Teaching critical thinking skills is the first step in encouraging questioning of authority figures and take steps toward respectful disobedience. In this sense, the future and the moral wellbeing of humanity depends on the formation of humans through education. For one example of immoral obedience, I rely upon my original influence for this thesis, Stanley Milgram’s obedience experiments. In this example, it becomes clear that, while education plays a crucial role in cultivating moral knowledge and respectful disobedience, it is not sufficient. Knowledge of morality does not mean there will be moral action. In addition to focusing on the role of education, this thesis focuses on the gap between thought and action and how to determine when action is required, even if it means disobeying established authorities.
Snyder, Anna (2019). Education and Obedience. Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. Available electronically from