Some system of authority is a requirement of all communal living. Obedience is a form of social influence in which a person yields to explicit instructions or orders from an authority entity.
Many traditional cultures regard obedience as a virtue, but Western cultures have come to regard obedience less favorably. The civil-rights and protest movements in the U.S. during the second half of the 20th century initiated a remarkable reduction in obedience to arbitrary authority.
Obedience to laws and rules generally serves the greater good: effective functioning of organizations, or public health and safety. Medical staff must obey doctor’s orders; civilians must obey lawful orders of law enforcement personnel; military personnel must obey lawful orders of superiors. In most nations, drivers must obey traffic and other laws. Children are still expected to obey their elders. ‘Ignorance of the law is no excuse’ for failing to obey the law.
Democracy and courts enable the challenge and testing of authority. Informed individual ethical judgment, not blind obedience to authority, is always preferred as the basis of moral decisions.