From: The Wall Street Journal

The Science of ‘I Was Just Following Orders’

The Wall Street Journal:

There is no more chilling wartime phrase than “I was just following orders.” Surely, most of us think, someone who obeys a command to commit a crime is still acting purposely, and following orders isn’t a sufficient excuse. New studies help to explain how seemingly good people come to do terrible things in these circumstances: When obeying someone else, they do indeed often feel that they aren’t acting intentionally.

Patrick Haggard, a neuroscientist at University College London, has been engaged for years in studying our feelings of agency and intention. But how can you measure them objectively? Asking people to report such an elusive sensation is problematic. Dr. Haggard found another way. In 2002 he discovered that intentional action has a distinctive but subtle signature: It warps your sense of time.

Read the whole story: The Wall Street Journal

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