HexHammer touches on a valid point. But I would add to that by saying that the majority of humanity, (not necessarily the nature of humanity because nature can change), the majority will choose self gratification over what it is best for the species, and that a consequence for such a choice will have some positive ramifications in many of those cases.
This is seen in every culture that imposes civility on its citizens in order to attain some sense of harmonious living. Without the imposition self gratification will always rule. But who shall do the imposing and defining of what is right and civil?
Devising laws for society is easy compared to the chore of choosing who will be the dictator. Yes, dictator! For regardless of whether they are self imposed or elected, they are still the power and authority which dictates how you will live and choose.
This dictatorial method of acquiring social harmony is found in both democracies and dictatorships, although the democracies like to think they have acquired it freely. Try to avoid paying your taxes next year and you will find out how free you are to make your own choices.
The fact is that in order to attain harmony, freedom of choice is always in the way, and it seems that when that freedom is limited by an imposition of harmonious values, self gratification becomes more difficult to accomplish. One cannot simply do whatever they please. Which is of course an attack on everything liberal minded. But one look at the moral decay and confusion that liberalism has brought into the melting pot cultures that try to afford equal rights to every facet of society that exists shows that it is impossible and disfunctional to try to please all of the people all of the time. How can people of so many different attitudes and desires all find acceptance under one roof without crossing each other? Collisions are bound to happen and when they do, if self gratification is all that rules, power will also be the ultimate victor. The group with the most power will become the dictator, whether you want to define that as majority vote or tyrannical rule.
If we have to have a power dictate the rules of social harmony to us in order to keep us from killing each other than why not intelligently and logically select that power. WHY? Because again, man is overwhelmed by his lean toward self gratification and will not sacrifice what he wants for the good of his humanity.
Here is derivative proof that understanding the true self, and how our self relates to our humanity, is the key to overcoming social discord and evolving toward the harmony of human life.
It has never been, and will never be, a matter of finding some authority that meets some definition of what is good compared to a definition of what is not good, to rule over society. Throughout history both democracies and dictatorships have been victimized by that dilemma. Every authority, elected or not, will have its own agenda, its own self gratifications to fulfill. The answer is found in ourselves; in each one of us individually, as we come to understand which is more important; our being human, or our being an individual aspect of that humanity. Once each one of us realizes that we are simply a small part of a much more important humanity, than our species benefits, instead of our short, abrupt physical manifestations. At that point of human evolution the species will accelerate to new discoveries and advancements that will make the computer age look like scribbling on a rock tablet.
Ethics are necessary to acquire civility, and defining them only becomes a problem when we place self gratification before the common good of all. Everyone knows that it would be wrong to defecate in the midst of a crowd of people as though they were not even exposed to your ignorance. There is an ethic in play here that need not be defined. It is simply a matter of both, whether or not that individual chooses to be discreet and respectful of others, and also whether or not there will be consequences for his making the wrong choice. Someone who does not care how his decisions affect others around him will need an incentive to be civil. And because we know we cannot appoint this authority without bias, the only other place to look is into the human consciousness to seek after the definition of what makes us what we are, and why some of us make the choices that we do. Not to make individual definitions of what is good and what is not good, but to understand why the human chooses to act individually over and above his own humanity.
Consequences are a necessary evil, temporarily, to achieve a society that can tolerate itself. But it will never be the long-term solution.
Understanding is the key; humanity is the conduit; harmony is the goal.
This written off the top of my head may require some editing so bear with me please.