What ought I do?
Kant answers this question via our capacity to reason, and thus to freely and autonomously choose in accord with a moral law. Reason is collectively shared by and definitive of everyone.
In this line of thinking, the individual is the locus of ethical analysis. It is a scalable unit which Anna Tsing defines as
“the ability of a project to change scales smoothly without any change in project frames.”
The assumption is that individual ethical correctness is scalable and the result is societal harmony.
But, this is not the case. Instead, ethical thinking must change in relation to the scale of the ethical problem. Some circumstances cannot be addressed by attending to the moral responsibilities of individuals, such as climate change, species extinction or a shortage of clean water.
To address these challenges, we need to find, formulate and practice a collective ethics in the form of a joint philosophy to live by in order to examine the values we base our ethical decision on.