What are they? How can we define them? How can we use them?
I’d like to propose that ethics are a mindset that attune us to our inner compass, thus connecting us with the outer world.
To begin, I must wholeheartedly reject the notion that ethics are a set of dogmas to follow. Should one accept bribes? Certainly not. But what about doing “personal favors”? Where’s the line between the two? There is no objective answer. If our ethics become rules to follow, we will forever be faced with scenarios that push the boundaries on these positions.
What I believe to be more valuable is an ethical state of mind, where we use our moral “gut feeling” in decision-making. My experience in academic ethics courses is that ultimately, people are faced with a hypothetical situation where their best justification is “it just feels right”. This answer has been unfairly treated as weak, as I believe there is a deep spiritual reason for this feeling.
We must trust our intuition, especially when we are dedicated in developing our connection with it. I have faith that this intuition connects us with the greater universe and to intellect unimaginable. Even when we have the entirety of the internet at our disposal in decision-making, we are utilizing a fraction (of a fraction) of the entire universe. Sure, we can explain our gut-feelings as merely genetic conditioning from an ancient past. But I have experienced far too many “perfect” decisions made (and missed!) to chalk up our intuition to genetic/luck.
Ultimately, the greatest superpower to have is to always be in the right place at the right time, to always say the right words to the right people, and to always think the right thought. I posit that our ethical state of mind steers us in the direction of honing and perfecting this superpower.