My goal in this post is the summarize the key points of a previous post so that the main points of that post don't get lost in the arguments for the main points. If you follow the main points below, you'll get a glimpse of how ethics is real and quantifiable in the digital world, but not real in the analog world.
1) We live in an overlapping analog-digital world. By analog world, I mean the four laws of physics and the particles in the universe. By digital world, I mean the countable, finite symmetries within the equations of motion for the particles.
2) In the digital world, there are self-replicating structures (like you and me.) There are also non-self-replicating digital structures, such as Bénard convection cells.
3) The essence of the digital world is the symmetries of the differential equations of motion of particles. The number of symmetries in the differential equations is not constant (for systems without irreversibility.) The language of the digital world is the language of symmetry groups (both Lie and finite groups.) The alphabet of the digital world is the 'simple groups.' (These are the most basic groups upon which you can build larger groups...analogous to the prime numbers for the positive integers.)
4) The presence of self-replicating digital structures in the digital world is due in part to Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem. The mathematics of simple groups is incomplete. Certain symmetry groups contain within themselves the information to create copies of symmetry groups (and hence grow the number of symmetries.) In other words, there is an inherent feedback loop between the differential equations and their symmetries that allows for self-replication of certain structures. [Note that there is still a wide open field of research, and I hope that more mathematicians start studying the interplay between
Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem and the self-replication of symmetry groups.]
5) Growth of symmetries (either by self-replicating or non-self-replicating structures) is only possible because of the weak nuclear force. If it weren't for the weak nuclear force, we would be living in a reversible world (because the gravitational, electromagnetic and strong nuclear forces are time reversal symmetric.) In a reversible universe, there is no future and there is no past. In a reversible world, there are no gradients in pressure, temperature, chemical potential or voltage. If you would like to imagine what a reversible world looks like, watch videos of superfluid helium, superconductivity, or just look out at the stars in the night sky. The photons from other stars are bosons and they don't interact via the weak nuclear force. They stay nearly exactly the same as they travel across the universe because photons can't interact via the weak nuclear force. The same is true for superfluid helium and electrons in superconductors. Electrons pair together in superconductors and form boson states in which they can't interact with each other via the weak nuclear force, and the system becomes nearly perfectly reversible (i.e. no irreversibly and no ability to maintain voltage gradients.) The fact (that we have gradients in temperature, pressure, voltage and chemical potential in systems that can interact via the weak nuclear force and that we don't have gradients in temperature, pressure, voltage and chemical potential in systems that can't interact via the weak nuclear force) implies that we live in a mostly irreversible world. (You can find examples of reversibility only when you eliminate the weak nuclear force or when the system reaches equilibrium...such as the spherically-symmetric distribution of neutrinos in galaxies. But of the universe is still far-from-equilibrium, i.e. far-from-being perfectly symmetric.)
6) When you only look at the analog world, then Hume is correct to say that you can't derive 'ought' from 'is.' If you only look at the analog world, there is no meaning. Ethics, beauty, morality, the good are only apparent when you look at the digital world. Moral actions are those actions that helps life to self-replicate as quickly as possible and that do not harm or prevent other life forms from being able to self-replicate.
7) Language is only possible because language is taking part in the digital world. Plato first made this argument over two thousand years ago. (Note that any digital action shows up in the analog world. The analog world is like a computer and the digital world is like a self-replicating program. There is both a digital and an analog aspect to software. There is the software and then there is the physical copy of it on certain computers.) If there were no digital world, language would not be possible. Language is possible because of our shared underlying use of the alphabet of the digital world (the simple symmetry groups.) Human languages and other languages of conscious beings depends crucially on the underlying 'machine code' of simple symmetry groups, just as higher-levels codes like java depend on lower level 'machine codes,' amd these 'machine codes' ultimately depend on the underlying 'simple symmetry groups.' We don't see the simple groups when we communicate with speech just as we don't see the underlying machine codes when we read a blog post, but the 'simple groups' are underlying our ability to communicate.
8) The symmetry group of the present universe contains the symmetry group of the universe of the past as a subgroup. Growth of new symmetry groups does not destroy the symmetry groups of the past. This is why it's important not to confuse DNA structures with the underlying symmetry group structures that allow for self-replicating structures. DNA information can be destroyed, but the underlying symmetry groups that allow for self-replicating systems (which contain DNA, proteins, cell walls, feedback loops, etc...) can't be destroyed. (Note: this doesn't mean that murder can ever be considered to be ethical. What I'm saying here is that there is an imprint of the past on the future in the fact that the symmetry group of the future contains the symmetry group of the past as a subgroup.)
9) The symmetry group of the universe only increases (as seen by the expanding of the surface area of the universe.) The future symmetry group of the universe can't be calculated. Just as in Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem (i.e. there are true statements in number theory that can't be proven), there are true future states of the universe that we can't prove to be true. There is no real way to predict the future, which is why we must maintain a certain level of humility and this is why all conscious life forms have basic rights. Conscious lifeforms must be free to self-replicate in ways that don't injure, steal from, or kill other conscious lifeforms from being able to self-replicate. You can't justify murder on the grounds of growing life elsewhere in the universe because there is an inherent inability to predict the future of the universe. As society grows, hopefully we will be able to add to the list of conscious lifeforms that are guaranteed certain basic rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of self-replication.
9) In summary, you have a digital self-replicating soul. You are a digital free-agent. You can't perfectly predict the future outcome of your actions, but you have stored memory, and can draw upon history, science, engineering, art, and literature to help estimate the outcome of any action. Moral actions are those actions that are taken freely and purposely help grow life. Immoral actions are those actions that are taken freely and purposely to destroy life or to waste stored useful energy (exergy.)