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CPM/ HRM and Kantian ethics- means (resources) or ends (people)
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The ethical stands to the construct of human resource management is extremely versatile and this subject domain concentrates in researching the diverse ethical angles for managing workforce. The current study will explore the construct of human resource management with a special focus on Kantian ethics in order to find out the manner in which human resource management can treat its personnel to be an end and not a means as is treated in most organizational constructs. The study will first detail the Kantian view on ethics and its association with human resource management. In today’s world of cut throat competition, it is necessary for firms to treat its workforce as an end and not must as any other material resource that leads to organizational growth and sustainability. The essay will furthermore provide suggestions and inferences that will help in developing manners in which the workforce of an organization can be treated as an end rather than a means (Hall, Pilbrim & Corbridge, 2013).
One of the most distinguished influence to ethics by Immanuel Kant, came from his resolve that the actions of an individual is held ethically worthy only when the individual engages in duty for the sake of preserving moral worth. This notion was first proposed by Kant in the form of a thing that is treated as common ethical realization. The next step was to demonstrate the mandatory component of any logical morality to be that of general ethical awareness. By establishing the claim that this notion was fundamental to the general awareness of ethics and morality, Kant expressed and emphasized on the teachings of Judeo – Christian ethics by outlining the manner in which the ethical consciousness of the Western world had transformed after the philosophies of Aristotle, Plato and Socrates.
Immanuel Kant based his philosophical thinking by distinguishing between categorical and hypothetical necessities. He maintained that an action that is based on aspirations to take the form of hypothetical necessity. By this he meant that only when an individual wishes to attain the objective does the person use a logical reason to achieve the goal. Furthermore, Kant maintained that moral commands must help in resolving categorical imperatives. By this, Kant means that such moral commands should be applicable for all logical beings, irrespective of their emotions and aspirations (Abreu & Badii, 2006).
The Utilitarian philosophy of thought was extended by the eminent philosopher John Stuart Mills. His philosophy of independence is demonstrated by the manner in which an individual strives to achieve self – enhancement. He furthermore maintains that the achievement of such enhancements by an individual without deterring other people in their drive to aim for self – enhancement results in attaining authentic independence (Wikipedia, 2016).
Kant thoroughly opposed the Utilitarian thinking by maintaining that only reason can help an individual to command action instead of judging each action based on its outcomes. Thus, Kantian ethics serves as a branch of deontology. The correctness behind an action is reliant on the fact that it is in alignment with a regulation despite possible outcomes.
Mills, in his book on Utilitarian ethics has proposed to address common misconceptions of the principle of utilitarian ethics as well as extend the defense against significant criticisms, especially those of Kant. Utilitarian ethics has been identified by Mills to be a component of empirical ethics. Hence, the general notion of using any possible means to get an end so as to augment self – enhancement has been highly opposed by Kant as he maintained that human beings should not be used as a resource to achieve specific ends (Wikipedia, 2016).
Despite this, Kant’s view on morality had two fundamental problems. The first was that Kant needed to detail the manner in which an individual can be moved only by considering the command of reason so as to act in sync with the fundamental moral rules. The next issue was that Kant had to demonstrate that his view on action to be commanded by reason alone to be applicable in the diverse selections made by human beings. So as to evade skepticism, Kant maintained that only reason spurs and individual to engage in an action. However, his claim was weak as he could not strongly counter it in lieu of the oppositions received due to the different view of Utilitarian ethics that concerned itself by judging the end results of every action (Abreu & Baidi, 2006).
In extending the debate on Kantian ethics to suit the framework of human resource management, two fundamental principles may emerge. These are as follows:
In the same construct, it may be inferred that one of the fundamental beliefs of Kant’s philosophy involved the construct of intentionality. Irrespective of the fact that the consequences of an act may lead to extremely adverse outcomes for other individuals, if the intentions and aims of the individual is noble, then the act is considered to be moral. This may be related to the construct of site closures being linked with job losses. At the same time, the same approach may be associated with meaning and motivation. Kantian ethics proposes the examples of following several rights in order to address problems. These include the right to safety and life, the privacy of human beings, the right to providing independence of conscience, the right to having private property and the right to speak.
Despite this, in modern day organizational settings, human beings are used as a resource that helps in garnering specific ends or organizational goals. Most of the above mentioned Kantian principles as well as the above mentioned tenets are not applied in practical organizational settings. Most firms focus on the sole prospect to achieve increased revenue and this is the reason as to why human resource management practices have been aligned to only support organizational processes and practices that bring about garnering revenue.
In attempting to develop some rules that may be in sync with Kantian ethics for practice in organizational settings, the following recommendations are proposed:
Human resource personnel should focus on following the above recommendations so as to aid the organization to value its personnel. In the world of technology and globalization, the consideration of human resource to be another resource or means to get specific ends is highly flawed. Organizations need to value human beings and consider them as an end to deriving specific means and not vice versa (Frierson, 2013).
Hence, it is essential to treat business ethics to be highly fundamental and at the same time value the workforce of an organization. The domain of human resource management is fraught with ethical issues and hence, the above recommendations should be followed by supervisors and human resource practitioners. The main challenge lies in applying the recommendations in a practical framework in order to further explore the subject of ethics and human resource management.
Especially in practical settings, the study should explore the vices of sexual harassment and discrimination in organizations and the manner in which the enforcement of the above mentioned recommendations aid in removing these vices. It is essential for supervisors and human resource practitioners to thoroughly analyze the philosophical views of Kant so as to apply them in today’s organizational settings. It is necessary to value human beings rather than treating them as mere objects to achieve end results by following the above recommendations. Rather than ensue in an endless debate, it is recommended to practically apply the tenets of Kant in today’s office settings so as to have a comprehensive view on the treatment of human resource being meted out in modern day organizations. This will aid in achieving consensus with respect to significant ethical dilemmas in the field of human resource management (Thompson, 2013).
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