The principle of utility and an application to Applebee’s
J.S. Mill, a classic utilitarian, holds that the action that promotes the highest level of utility, or happiness, for those in a society constitutes right action. In this blog, I would like to attempt to apply this to a restaurant setting, using the entirety of restaurant guests as my conception of “society”. One might be wondering why I might be applying such a concept to a restaurant like Applebee’s. Well, to answer your question, I have been working at Applebee’s now as a server for about two years, and have quickly came to understand that if I want to make money, that I will make sure that each of my tables maintains a maximum level of utility, or happiness.
Applebees policy states that, “every guest leaves happy”. In other words, it is their policy that each and every guest that enters their restaurant maintains a high level of utility. If we were to compare this to a society, we could quickly apply this to Mill’s thoughts. In essence, we could apply them and then conclude that whatever makes the guest happy can be considered to be the right action.
Let me expound on this a bit. Let’s say that I have a four-top table, and that after I deliver their food, they ask me for 6 ramekins of ranch. Now, according to Applebee’s specifications, I am only supposed to deliver 2 extra ramekins of ranch per table. However, this table wants 6. So, what do I do? Do I tell that that we only are able to give them 2, and that if they want the extra 4, that they would have to pay for them? Or do I go in the back and just make them 6? Well, according to Mill’s principle of utility, maximum happiness constitutes right action, regardless of what Applebee’s specifications state. Therefore, according to Mill, as well as other utilitarians, in order to ensure a maximum level of happiness for my guests, I will bring that that 6 ramekins of ranch, and can’t be punished for choosing the wrong action to pursue, as it is the right action. Though this might not go over so well with my managers after they see that I have been dishing out extra ramekins of ranch like hotcakes, it seems as though I could couple Mill’s reasoning with their philosophy of “every guest leaves happy”, and excuse myself from being punished. Would this, in reality, really work? That is something that I’m not too sure about. However, it would be worth a try!