People Feel Less Moral Responsibility When Following Orders [STUDY]

Throughout history, there have been cases of people being ordered to do unspeakable acts and then carrying out these acts. When they are finally brought to justice, sometimes at a war crimes tribunal – the Holocaust being the most memorable – the defense is they “were just following orders.” Holocaust mastermind Adolf Eichmann famously used this defense for himself and other low-level officers, saying they were “forced to serve as mere instruments.” This shifting of responsibility for the deaths of millions of Jews to his superiors, the “just following orders” defense, was ultimately rejected in the post-World War II Nuremberg . . .

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