A time based ethical system.
There is a problem lurking in all ethical decisions which is almost wholly overlooked, and that is the question of time. Over what period of time is the behavior in question going to apply? The only time to create ethical life-enhancing behavior is now, and thus the best way to control, and predict future behavior is to lay the foundations for it now.
Short term moral behavior is sometimes seen as in direct conflict with long term moral behavior. A gross example would be taking mood enhancing psychoactive drugs as a way to have instant pleasure with minimal physical or mental effort. That behavior would seem pleasurable, and therefore good to the user at the moment, but it becomes apparent that the behavior, if sustained over a period of time, generally leads to disaster for the individual and his associates. The repeated short term “morally-okay” behavior tends to precipitate problems later, because there is no immediate distinction between the pleasurable feelings from taking the drugs, and those same pleasurable feelings a free acting individual would get from performing normal life enhancing activities.
Ethical behavior for an individual is most easily viewed in its effects on the relationship with those around him. Ethics is thus derived from experience, and becomes a set of guiding principles, and habits for enhancing the health, and vigor of the society in which the individual is immersed. A man alone in an otherwise uninhabited universe is a society of one, and seems to have no need of ethics; but he would still benefit greatly if he follows an ethical system, because those ethics honed by a well functioning society would guide him along a better, meaning a more life-enhancing, path. However, it is only when in relationship with others that the need for ethics, as a set of guiding principles for the individual, becomes easily visible, and the concepts can be meaningfully described, and defined. Ethics then becomes a group of concepts, and behaviors designed to enhance the health and vigor of the social group. Ethics defined in this way becomes an intellectual construct reflecting the evolutionarily developed physical construct we consider a social species; that is, a working DNA assemblage, and its species-phenotype members, and their shared behaviors, and derived group knowledge functioning together for the group’s survival through time. The ethical construct is a similar entity, but it is passed on to its members as a guiding set of social behaviors.