Magazine April 18, 2011, Issue

Decline and Fall

(Brendan McDermid/Reuters)
So much for my prideful independence and self-sufficiency

There is a school of psychology called Situationism that pooh-poohs the notion of individual character. This line of thought began with some experiments by Stanley Milgram of Yale in the early 1960s. By manipulating his test subjects’ conformism and respect for authority, Milgram was able to get ordinary pleasant people to give near-lethal 450-volt electric shocks to slow learners. (The “learners” were hired professional actors, the shocks imaginary, but Milgram’s subjects did not know these things.) The most extreme Situationists argue that personal character is a fiction, and that given an appropriate situation, anyone will do anything. This has been

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To be fair, Obama is right: Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that Congress has to declare kinetic military action.


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