This is especially visible in the world of “ethics”, where the term itself is subject to a large variety of differing definitions. However, most definitions of ethics seem to come to a common agreement that ethics involves people who try to determine good behavior and bad behavior, and in some cases to call that determination “morality”.
There are classical ethical questions and situations which might be posed. Here is the “run away trolley car dichotomy”:
”You are in San Francisco, standing near a trolley line on which there is a trolley coming down a steep hill. You realize that the trolley is out of control and is coming down at very high speed. You see that you have access to a track switch that can take the trolley one of two ways, depending on the position of the switch. You suddenly understand that you can do something; you can throw the switch. But to which path should you send the trolley? Looking down one path, there is an elderly man standing on the track with his back to you. Down the other path there is a group of young people standing on the track with their backs to you. So you must decide which path, immediately. Which do you choose?”The purpose of this dichotomy in ethics is to force a budding ethicist to place value on different classes of human life. The question can be changed to involve a group of elderly men, and a single young person, or any combination of different people: different sexes, different abilities, different races; the difference in the class membership of the potential victims is the point. It is all in the service of placing values on differing humans. The pursuit of Ethics demands that you do those things: put people into classes and then put a value on that class.
A further supposition is this: the situation itself gives the person at the track switch the temporary moral authority to choose the value of the two different assortments of potential victims and the moral necessity to act. Why is this temporary? Because it will be second-guessed at the public hearing, by other people who will have been legally endowed with the authority to judge the “ethics” of the person at the track switch. The person at the track switch might ultimately be accused of racism, ageism, or some other form of ethical malfeasance for choosing the wrong path for the trolley, based on a different ethic which is applied by the prosecutor, and ultimately the court itself might apply a different ethic still.
It can be easily understood, then, that ethics is a temporary opinion of some person who creates such opinions. There will be conflicting ethical pronouncements by different people who are making their opinions based on different criteria. And how an ethic is used is also highly variable.
There is no such thing as a fixed ethic.
There is no such thing as an ethical Truth.
Most situations involving actual ethical decisions are far less drastic than the runaway trolley scenario. And yet there are ideological forces which do take the extreme issues to the maximum and force the reconsideration of what is right and what is wrong. Eugenics is one of those issues, because it involves human classes which are valued purely on class, and nothing more.
The valuation of human classes is a tempting use of ideologies. The Kulakization of entire subpopulations was the result of a ruling class which created a class of valueless humans to be eradicated. The definition of “kulak” became highly expansive as other groups of inconvenient humans found themselves suddenly defined as “kulaks” by the state. In a top-down state the ethics which has authority is determined by those who devise ethics which benefit the state. So the moral authority resides in the head of the state. [Note 1]
But in other societies, who is it that has moral authority to dispense rules of behavior which apply to the entire society? Who would determine the ethics to be used in a Utopia? Is moral authority really only the physical authority of the state?
It all boils down to the “Great Sez Who?”, as the inimitable Arthur Leff  put it. If behavior has no consequences, then all behavior is OK. Where do consequences enter into the consideration of ethics as would be applied universally? For example, if there were a universal ethical principle such as universal human rights, what would the source for that Truth be? How would it be enforced, or would it be enforced at all?
The declaration of universal human rights would necessarily come from a source which is able to provide both universal wisdom and universal consequences. This immediately leaves out any single or group of human ethical authors. Only under the hypothetical utopia which is ruled by force of death could such an ethic be applied.
Only if the ethic and consequences can be applied from outside the universe, and with consequences both in the universe and outside the universe for both good and bad behavior, could a single ethic be applied to all humans with the moral authority of consequences.
But such an authority is not based in material understandings which are favored by thinkers encumbered by a philosophy of Materialism. Rejection is inevitable. So consequences must also be inevitable – but they are not, at least within the confines of the material universe.
Still, the option of a universal ethic is attractive. Without it, there is no consistent guide for human behavior. In fact, many Materialists insist that our evolutionary history shows that humans are deterministic and thus are without culpability. So there actually is neither good nor evil, there is only power and its ability to help the powerful to survive and control their fates while alive. Thus Good becomes the strongest Will To Power, based in the most evolutionarily fit individuals. In other words, dictatorship and the will of the dictator are defined as ultimate Goods.
Is that a credible criterion for Good? The question is trivial under Atheism and Materialism, because it is the only choice in the long run. Ethicists can generate faux morality rules for the masses, but only under true authoritarian force can the rules become universal. But the dictatorship removes human rights, and that presents an unavoidable internal contradiction. No dictatorship can provide universal human rights, including a putative utopian dictatorship.
The other choice is the unthinkable: non-Materialist ethics with consequences outside the material realm, provided by a force untouchable by human resentment or revolution. If there are human rights, then this is the only option which fits that description of a necessary universal enforcer of consequences.
If we are to think that there actually are universal human rights, then the only non-contradictory choice is the non-material incontrovertible source.
This is not a proof of the existence of a deity. It merely indicates that without such a source for human rights, there can be no universal human rights.
This conclusion is empirically validated by both metrics and observation of the countries which are dedicated to the top down ethics of New Man, equalitarian, worker’s-paradise Ethics, as formed by Marx and implemented under the various Revolutionary dictators. The most recent is the Chavez dictatorship in Venezuela which has resulted in immense wealth for the dictators and their clans, while reducing their masses to hunger and privation, as well as ever increasing government confiscation and control. One might conclude that such top down ethical programs work opposite to their claims. This is again validated in every Marxist totalitarian country around the globe. Even within the USA the AtheoLeftist “blue model” has failed radically in cities which have been run under that model for decades, and which now sport growing ghettos and fiscal decadence to the point of virtual social and economic collapse.
There is no possible AtheoLeftist ethic which can provide universal human rights. Such ethics always necessarily devolve to class systems, where certain classes are preferred and other classes declared inconvenient or evil and thus dispensable. In some European post-nations it is now “ethical” to dispose of certain classes of elderly or other disadvantaged without their permission. In other parts of the EU, it is now ethical to perform genetic modification on human embryos to determine which modifications kill the embryonic human as it attempts to grow. The ethical road the Third Reich is being cleared off for travel again. This is happening under the unelected dictators of the European Union, a de facto AtheoLeftist totalitarian coterie.
Returning to the basic concept of ethics for dictating Good and Bad behavior, the USA has been the sole nation to incorporate the concept of an external source for immutable universal human rights into its fundamental documents. That is under considerable assault from the AtheoLeft, and the hazard of AtheoLeftist degenerative ethics replacing universal ethics is well underway.
To conclude, ethics are human opinions and are subject to contradiction between ethicists, volatility within a single ethical source, perversion by ideologies, and the necessity for totalitarian enforcement to provide consequences – which are always negative.
Morals are externally sourced, immutable, non-contradictory and have consequences beyond the human enforcement or non-enforcement, and thus beyond human corruption.
Moral Authority is external to human control. The consequences are both negative and positive and exist beyond the reach of human control.
1. Rahm Emmanuel’s brother, whatzisname Emmanuel, devised a system of ethics for the ObamaCare takeover. Humans were valued like this:
a. Elderlies have low value, since they have already expended their value during their careers, leaving them with low value and increasing needs; so their medical care can be rationed and even denied, as local ethicists determine.Thus every human goes through several class designations during her life, and ends with no value at all, if she lives that long.
b. Babies have the next lowest value, being non-contributors yet absorbing educational and medical resources along their growth path.
c. Youth at roughly 20years of age already have the value of their educations installed, are generally healthy, and have their productive adult lives ahead of them; their value is the highest, and they should easily receive medical care. But their value decreases slightly as they age, until their retirement when their value goes off a cliff as they officially become elderly class.
d. Women as a class have more value (Victimology) than men as a class. There might have been a racial component too, since class war has that class.
2. Leff, Arthur; "Unspeakable Ethics, Unnatural Law; Duke Law Journal;Vol.1979, Dec., No.6.