definitely disagree with the bolded. being too literal can also fray into unrealism. this is more a discrepancy between levels of proof. what people consider proof is easily defined by the concrete. still, i can have a thought and there be not tangible proof of it's existence, for example. still, ethics exist. just because something is not physically tangible doesn't mean it does not exist. it's like saying there is no such thing as fear, love, anger, hurt etc because you can't touch it or it's a process of chemical reactions. that's no different than saying a carrot is not a carrot but just a chain of molecules. in the absence of life, of course it wouldn't matter but it definitely exists as a component of life. but it exists because we are constantly in relationship with other life. if you can point to any example of a lifeform that does not have the desire to preserve thier life, then you can say ethics do not exist. that is not subjective creation but a reality. ethics is not just what you apply to others but your own survival instincts. this is really the basis of ethics. "thou shalt not kill" is an understanding of this survival instinct. whether it's feasible at all time or can be carried out is another matter. the root of this ethical understanding is real as anything. this is a good example of what i'm referring to. whether someone else is mean/dangerous to you is not the only issue of survival because on the same token people want others to be nice, considerate or caring to them as well. that's what they really want. people can settle for neutral in most cases but still that is not what is truly wanted or maybe needed to thrive. it's not just an issue of survival by your own means and you are an island unto yourself.