To answer the question whether ethics is a one size shoe fit or a customized outfit, it can help to look at it at a different perspective. Suppose an alien from a faraway galaxy, traveled to earth to observe the behavior of the so called “earthlings”. This earth, hypothetical, is now divided into two major countries called the North and the South. The culture and behavior of the two countries is in a great contrast with each other, for example, the people living in the north are all vegetarians and the people living in the south prefer meat. If this alien would be asked, as part of his observation, if the ethics is fixed or variable, the judgement of the alien would be based on his principles or ethics. He observed that southern earthlings kill animals to use the meats and based on the alien’s principle, this kind of culture is an atrocity due to his knowledge that he has an advanced equipment to “print” food that is chemically structured like meat but the molecules are gathered form carbon dioxide and other molecules that is present in the air. Southerners can defend that their actions are ethical by saying that the process the use to slaughter the animal is designed as humanely as possible to minimize the pain of the animal.
As an analysis for this thought bubble, my stand is ethics is a customized outfit. Customized in the sense of it is an accumulated knowledge and ideas of the different civilizations and culture and rearranging them to refine the behavior of human beings and reduce the sufferings of other living things. For me, ethics is an evolving part of our society and as our knowledge about our surroundings and the universe increases, so did the ethics will conform. For example, the ethics of primitive tribes is vastly different compared to the ethics of the 21st century generation on humans. And I think that ethics are reasoned rules of conduct that are based on past experiences.
“Conflict inspires human adaptation in a way that could extend the survival of the species. In this sense, the evolution of ethical systems is a response to the drive of the human species to survive.”
-Erik Bromberg, The Evolution of Ethics