Immanuel Kant was more important than John Stuart Mill in the development of philosophy
This debate should be impossible to accept.
Introduction and Clarifications
Credit to SocialPinko for the idea. We had a similar debate a while back and I wanted to do one like this again.
The terms “important” and “development” will be open for debate. There is no need to agree on the specific definitions but we should apply common sense and reason to the terms.
This debate is NOT about the soundness of the philosophers' views. Please do not start arguing about who was right or wrong unless it bears relevance to the debate--which it probably will not.
Western philosophers only. Likewise, it is primarily Western philosophy that we are talking about.
List of Western philosophers: http://en.wikipedia.org...
My prospective opponent may choose any philosopher from the above list with the following stipulations:
1. Post-Descartes era only; starting in the 1650s with Thomas Hobbes and onwards.
2. The scientists, i.e. Isaac Newton, Blaise Pascal etc. do not count.
3. Pre-1900s only. So 1850-1900 counts but 1900-2000 does not.
These conditions are not strict. Please feel free to suggest a philosopher outside these provisions if you feel he would be a good candidate.
I will choose my opponent based on the suggestions and other factors, such as Elo.
Burden of proof is shared. I must show Kant was more important and my opponent must show that his choice was more important.
72 hours to respond
10,000 characters per round
2 week voting period
No Elo limit. I don’t predict much poor or bias voting.
Select winner voting
R2: Arguments and rebuttal
R3: Arguments and rebuttal
R4: No new arguments. No new sources. No referencing sources from previous rounds unless citing information that you’ve already mentioned. Summary.
Voters must provide, at the least, fairly detailed reasons for their decision which correspond to what was in the debate. Otherwise, their failure to meet this condition will be used to call for their vote being deleted. Other voter discretions will not be tolerated either. Otherwise, as always, I greatly appreciate everyone who takes the time to read and judge fairly.
I accept and will be arguing for the illustrious John Stuart Mill! Good luck!
I’d like to thank kasmic for accepting the debate. I’ve debated him recently and thus know that this will be an enjoyable and stimulating debate.
I will focus on Kant this round and let Con present Mill in his case.
Kant Revolutionized Philosophy; Metaphysics and Epistemology
Before Kant, the two dominant epistemological and metaphysical theories were empiricism and rationalism. Kant, in a unique way, argued that both theories err in their methods, assumptions, and arguments. Moreover, Kant was concerned with the state of metaphysics and the potential for philosophy sliding into skepticism and ambiguity. He wished to raise metaphysics to a scientific foundation. In the Critique of Pure Reason, Kant attempts to rescue metaphysics from its meandering and speculative state. Kant focuses on human cognition and the role it plays in experience. He argues against empiricists in that their view of the world is untenable and rests on assumptions they themselves set out to disprove and against rationalism in that pure a priori deductions of mind-independent reality were impossible. Kant's answer to these two traditions "changed the face of philosophy". Kant found the traditional division between a priori truths and a posteriori truths insufficient. Kant believed there also needed to be an analysis of synthetic and analytic truths. The empiricist framework fails to account for the synthetic a priori notions such as causality. The concept of synthetic a priori knowledge was entirely new in philosophy. Kant’s exposition of the question “how is synthetic a priori knowledge possible?”, his emphasis on the mind’s role in experience, and his divide between the noumenal and phenomenal aspects of reality were extremely original and influential .
Dr. Robert Hanna  posits that the Critique of Pure Reason is "arguably the single most brilliant, important, and difficult book in modern philosophy. Its main topic is the nature, scope, and limits of human cognition and reason; and its main conclusion is that necessary truth, a priori knowledge, and freedom of the will are possible if and only if transcendental idealism is true” . He provides three arguments in support: 1.The CPR advanced a radically original solution to the rationalist and empiricist divide. 2. “The CPR offers a radically original resolution of the basic metaphysical problems of Rationalism and Empiricism (does God exist? how can we be free in a deterministic world? what is the nature of the mind & can it exist independently of the body?).” 3. The CPR has had a greater impact on modern philosophy than any other book or theory.
The CPR was a philosophical revolution. It defeated dogmatic traditional rationalism, synthesized empiricism and rationalism, and pretty much opened up completely new approaches to philosophy. It opened the door for German idealism and thus Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel. It inspired Charles Peirce and Gottlob Frege fathers of modern logic. Also, phenomenologists, Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger. Most importantly, it put metaphysics on a reasonable footing which it had not been on before and denounced speculative supersensory dogmatic rationalist metaphysics. 
To add some perspective to Kant’s importance in metaphysics, below is the amount of times certain philosophers are mentioned in the Stanford Encyclopedia entry on metaphysics. 
Kant - 5
Mill - 0
Hume - 4
Hegel - 1
Descartes - 1
Russell - 1
Frege - 1
Locke - 0
Heidegger - 0
Leibniz - 2
Spinoza - 1
Plato/Platonism - 10
Aristotle - 35
Socrates - 10
(The latter results are one reason I narrowed this debate down to modern philosophy)
This further elucidates his importance since massive figures are never mentioned yet Kant is five different times. It is no wonder that Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy calls Kant “the central figure in modern philosophy” .
Ethics; Deontology Theory
Substantial as his critical philosophy is, Kant's ethics rivals its importance according to the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy . Kant is the most important figure in deontology, or duty ethics . Deontology ethics is one of the three most important normative theories (virtue ethics, deontology, and consequentialism) . Thus, Kant is of huge importance in ethics. The central feature in Kant’s moral philosophy is the categorical imperative. He was also a major opponent of utilitarianism.
Kant's aesthetics and teleology covered a very large scope. He wrote on the subject throughout his life but his most important work was the Critique of Judgement. He divides aesthetic judgments into three categories: judgments of the agreeable, judgments of beauty, and judgments of sublimity. Kant was responsible for resolving the discontinuity of the view that judgments of virtue equate to judgments of taste. Moreover, Kant himself is responsible for the term "aesthetic" becoming widespread, though he was not the first to use the term, and it was not his exact concept that became widespread. . According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “Kant's aesthetic theory has always been extremely influential within philosophical aesthetics and the philosophy of art, and since the late 1970s there has been a rapidly expanding literature on Kant's aesthetics within Anglo-American Kant interpretation” .
I look forward to Con’s opening case.
I would like to thank my opponent for such an interesting debate topic. I do feel much the underdog in this debate. However, I am confident in the influence that John Stuart Mill has had on modern philosophy. As such, I hope both my opponent and I, as well as all who read this debate, will find the content thought provoking and stimulating.
Pro said “I’d like to thank kasmic for accepting the debate. I’ve debated him recently and thus know that this will be an enjoyable and stimulating debate.”
I have looked forward to this debate with much anticipation, and appreciate the kind words of my opponent.
Pro said “I will focus on Kant this round and let Con present Mill in his case.”
In keeping with this format, I will present my case for John Stuart Mill and save the comparison to Immanuel Kant for the next round.
Importance: “the quality or state of being important : value or significance”(1)
Development: “the act or process of growing or causing something to grow or become larger or more advanced” (2)
As Pro stated “This debate is NOT about the soundness of the philosophers' views. Please do not start arguing about who was right or wrong unless it bears relevance to the debate--which it probably will not.”
In spirit of this, I will likely not go into detail on Mill’s works. Also, I apologize for the amount of my argument that will be quoted as there are so many great sources.
1: John Stuart Mills importance to the development of philosophy
A: Introducing Mill
“John Stuart Mill (1806–1873) was the most famous and influential British philosopher of the nineteenth century. He was one of the last systematic philosophers, making significant contributions in logic, metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, political philosophy, and social theory. He was also an important public figure, articulating the liberal platform, pressing for various liberal reforms, and serving in Parliament.”(3)
(it should be noted that pro also references the Stanford Encyclopedia where I got the above quote.)
The main branches of philosophy, as I understand it, are epistemology, logic, metaphysics, Ethics, political philosophy, and social theory. All of which Mill is attributed for making “significant contributions.”
I will summarize a few of his works.
B: “System of Logic, Ratiocinative and Inductive.”
While “John Stuart Mill did not by any means invent logic…” this work is very important because of the “ clarity it brought to the subject. Mill defined just five, and only five, ways (known as 'Mill's Methods') of determining whether causes and effects are connected, and so produced a system which became an important source for all the experimental sciences.”(4)
As I am sure my opponent is aware, Ethics is large branch of philosophy. He even references Kant’s impact in this field. John Stuart Mills contribution to Normative ethics is also of great value and significance.
“This theory is an economic analysis that is human-centered (or anthropocentric) and has a moral foundation. Classical utilitarianism's two most influential contributors are Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill.”(5)
“Utilitarianism is one of the most powerful and persuasive approaches to normative ethics in the history of philosophy.”(6)
John Stuart Mill is very well known for his work “On Liberty.” This work “attempts to establish standards for the relationship between authority and liberty.”(7)
Perhaps the most influential concept in this work is the “Harm Principle.”(8) This principle is widely applied in modern society.
“Mill saw women's issues as important and began to write in favor of greater rights for women. With this, Mill can be considered among the earliest women's rights advocates. His book The Subjection of Women (1861, published 1869) is one of the earliest written on this subject by a male author.”(9)
Mill also promoted the work of Women philosophers. His wife, Harriet Taylor Mill, was a philosopher herself. “Taylor was attracted to Mill, who treated her as an intellectual equal and collaborated with her on many of the texts published under his name.”(10)
Concluding John Stuart Mills importance to the development of philosophy:
“Viewed in historical context, both utilitarianism and liberalism have exerted considerable progressive influence on the scope of moral concern, the design of public institutions, the responsibilities of government, and the interests and rights of the governed. Mill did much to articulate the justification, content, and implications of utilitarian and liberal principles.”(11)
“Both traditions figure centrally in contemporary discussions of analytical ethical and political theory. Further progress in these traditions must take account of his contributions.”(11)
“His revival of formal logic inspired the developments that now date it. In the philosophy of science, his empiricism has for the most part stood the test of time. But his lasting influence has been in the areas of political and social philosophy. His defenses of utilitarianism and of liberty shaped the views of his own generation, and they continue to this day to inspire and to guide.”(12)
John Stuart Mills immense importance to the development of philosophy is evident.
I’d like to thank Con for his articulation of Mill’s importance. Comparing the two philosophers has been fun.
Con introduces Mill with the opening quote of Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy's entry on Mill. In order to compare what this esteemed encyclopedia says about both figure, I will present the opening section of the entry on Kant.
“Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) is the central figure in modern philosophy. He synthesized early modern rationalism and empiricism, set the terms for much of nineteenth and twentieth century philosophy, and continues to exercise a significant influence today in metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, political philosophy, aesthetics, and other fields” .
Mill is called the most famous British philosopher of the 19th century. Kant is deemed the central figure of modern philosophy. We are not deciding this debate based on such quotes. Nevertheless, I think they adequately sum up concisely what can be said of their importance.
Main branches of philosophy
After google searching the above words, the results I got from the first 4 sources (excluding wikipedia) were:
Metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, politics, esthetics 
Axiology (study of value) which covers ethics, aesthetics; epistemology, ontology or Metaphysics 
Metaphysics, epistemology, logic, ethics, aesthetics 
Epistemology, metaphysics, logic, ethics 
As the last source mentions, the traditional division is epistemology, metaphysics, logic and ethics, and these four branches seem to be the only consistently mentioned ones. Thus, I think it’s a good framework to keep all the mentioned branches in mind, but these four especially for this debate.
Metaphysics and Epistemology
Con has not presented Mill’s contributions to these two areas so it’s hard for me to make a comparison. The only mention is the Stanford quote which states he made significant contributions to these areas. I’ll admit that of course, however, as the Stanford entry also mentions, “His views are not entirely original, having their roots in the British empiricism of John Locke, George Berkeley and David Hume, and in the utilitarianism of Jeremy Bentham” . His service to these areas was to provide depth to them, defend them, and make them more popular. These are certainly important contributions, but when you think of empiricism, you think Locke, Berkeley, Hume; when you think of utilitarianism, you think Bentham, then Mill. On the other hand, when you think of Kantianism, you think of Kant--obviously--just as when you think of deontology ethics, Kant most comes to mind.
Con does not bring up aesthetics, so I’ll just expand more on Kant’s major contributions to this area. Kant’s “Critique of Judgment” was “The first systematic, ambitious, and widely influential attempt to rethink the meaning of the aesthetic in the altered context of modernity...Several of the deep and largely permanent alterations in the modern Western conception of the aesthetic dimension were introduced and defended in that work” [14 P.189].
Kant argued that beauty is not an objective predicate of objects but is the combination of the interaction between objects and the observer’s cognitive tools [14 P.189]. However, “Kant hardly left his analysis at such a subjective and potentially relativistic point...Kant proceeded to argue that even though the ultimate source of aesthetic experience is our own faculties and their interaction, not the nature of the world, this new source has its own kind of authority and claim to legitimacy.” With characteristic originality and great ingenuity, Kant sought a deduction or justification of claims such as “All ought to feel such a pleasure in the presence of such an object” [14 P.190]. Kant developed several theses which influenced much of what came after him; some of them “came to play essential roles in almost all later modern reflection on the aesthetic dimension” [14 P.192].
Kant was also an important figure in logic and was actually a lecturer on logic. Though he never wrote a separate work on logic, his thoughts on logic are central to his philosophy and enter in to almost all of his most important writings on philosophy. His views on logic "stands at a key transitional moment in the broader history of logic and philosophy of logic” .
The typically idealist view of the structure of thought as an explanation for the structure of the world is most famously argued by Kant . Kant viewed logic as tasked with revealing the possible activities and representational concepts of our understanding (covering formal and transcendental logic). He saw logic as the basis of science and also the blueprint of a scientifically grounded metaphysics.. German Idealists, among others, adopted this view. However, Kant viewed knowledge within logic as limited. “Critically revisiting these alleged restrictions provided inspiration for many of those responsible for the most influential developments in the subsequent history of logic (such as Bolzano, Frege, and Russell)” . As mentioned last round, the Critique of Pure Reason also inspired Charles Pierce and Gottlob Frege, fathers of modern logic.
Mill was very important in ethics but I can’t see him coming close to Kant’s importance Mill never created an original theory, he only provided depth, articulation, and influence to utilitarianism. Utilitarianism began with Jeremy Bentham -- years before Mill. Utilitarianism is hugely important, but Bentham is the most important figure in utilitarianism. Con’s source even mentions him before Mill. Deontology ethics is hugely important and Kant is the central figure in deontology. Moreover, Kant’s ethical philosophy was his own. He was the original creator and defender of it, whereas Mill only developed another person’s philosophy.
Kant made significant contributions to similar areas, such as autonomy and liberty. For example, the distinction of positive and negative liberty goes back at least to Kant . Positive liberty often overlaps with autonomy. Individual autonomy is a central part of Kantian philosophy and Kant is an important figure in this subject as evidenced by his frequent mentioning in the Stanford entry on autonomy in moral and political philosophy . Liberalism historically arose out the social contract tradition, which Kant adopted and expanded his own views on. Autonomy plays a central role in one dominant strand of this tradition which is found in Kant. “It is the Kantian brand of liberalism that places autonomy of persons at center stage. Rawls's Theory of Justice was seen as the modern manifestation of this Kantian approach to justice, where justice was conceived as those principles that would be chosen under conditions of unbiased rational decision-making” .
In this respect, Mill certainly was more important than Kant. However, this is merely a sub genre of political philosophy and is only in part philosophical. Women’s studies are political and social, only partly philosophical and only a sub genre of a genre of philosophy. Women's rights are a hugely important social issue, but not philosophically speaking.
Philosophy of religion; arguments for God
I’d like to introduce the concept of God’s existence this round since Kant did play a significant role in both defending and tearing down certain arguments.
Kant inspired probably the most influential versions of the moral justification for belief in God. These moral arguments were prominent during the 1800s up until the middle 1900s. Kant’s argument is the most famous and possibly the most influential according to Stanford Encyclopedia .
Kant's attack of the ontological argument is also important. Stanford Encyclopedia states, "Perhaps the best known criticisms of ontological arguments are due to Immanuel Kant, in his Critique of Pure Reason. Most famously, Kant claims that ontological arguments are vitiated by their reliance upon the implicit assumption that “existence” is a predicate." 
Kant also provided a notable and “serious” attack of the cosmological argument 
 Rosen, Stanley. Philosophy 101: Selections from the Works of the Western World's Greatest Thinkers. New York: Gramercy, 2007. Print.
I will follow the framework of pro.
I’d like to thank Con for the chance to compare these two great figures in the development of philosophy. It has been a pleasure.
To remind the viewers and my opponent, no new arguments or sources are to be used this round and no referencing sources from previous rounds unless citing information already mentioned.
Metaphysics and Epistemology
Mill provided depth and a continued influence of empiricism among the public. That’s it--or all Con provides us. Kant changed the face of philosophy. The “Critique of Pure Reason” was highly original, ingenious, and easily one of, if not the--as Robert Hanna argues (round 2) and Con doesn’t refute--most important philosophical works in modern philosophy. As shown, it synthesized rationalism and empiricism, set metaphysics on a scientific footing, kept it from sliding into skepticism, introduced the synthetic a priori, and had massive impacts which changed the course of philosophy permanently.
Con has hardly attempted to make a comparison and left most of my argument untouched. Reviewing my opening case, it is easy to see that the significance of Kant’s metaphysics far surpasses that of Mill’s.
Kant ushered in a philosophical revolution. Mill’s metaphysical and epistemic philosophy was around long before him or even Kant. Mill’s contributions to empiricism are notable, but not nearly so much as Kant’s contributions to critical philosophy in general.
Con says, “Without influence there is little to no development.” The influence mentioned is of the broad general public. There’s no reason to say empiricism was not still influential in philosophical discourse. Indeed, the broad general public is not entirely relevant unless they contribute themselves to the development of philosophy, which layman do not, really.
Con states that modern society is largely based on teleology, specifically utilitarianism. This bold claim goes unsupported and would be immaterial either way. It’s already been established that the three main fields of ethics are virtue ethics, deontology theory, and consequentialism. Regardless of societal influence, deontology ethics and consequentialism are both of the foremost importance in philosophy. Moreover, philosophy is theoretical, so the inference from more societal impact to more philosophical impact must be illuminated. However, it is too late in the debate for Con to bring in new sources, so it’s doubtful that this can be accomplished. Lastly, even if utilitarianism was more important than Kantian ethics, that would only mean Bentham and Mill together are more important, not that Mill himself is.
Con says, “I would be amazed if an educated conversation of utilitarianism could take place without reference to John Stuart Mill.” Mill’s importance is indeed supreme, which is why I stated that when you think of utilitarianism you think Bentham, then Mill. I never excluded Mill, merely gave more credit to the founder. Mill is truly one of the greatest classical figures in the philosophy of ethics. I have no intention of withholding due credit.
Since Kant stands alone in his central role in deontology ethics, and since his system is his own and would not exist without him, I maintain that Kant was of more importance.
Mill contributed to aesthetics but his work was “widely neglected” as Con’s source claims. Con concedes this contention. Aesthetics is not as momentous as metaphysics or ethics, but it is a significant field of philosophy and Kant’s contributions were paramount.
Con’s quote claims that Mill brought clarity to the subject and developed a system which became important for experimental science.
It’s superficial to note that Kant never wrote a separate work on logic. Logic was ever present in Kant’s philosophy and was central to his theories. The inconsequential fact that he never wrote a separate book on it did not mean he did not write extensively on logic. His views on logic sit at a crucial point in the history of logic. The German idealists adopted his views and many of the most important figures in the development of the philosophy of logic were inspired by his views, as shown last round.
Con claims Mill’s contributions overshadows Kant’s, but does not provide any additional support for this claim. He states “Mill’s concepts of liberty have largely been implemented to modern society.” All Con has proven, with the required sourcing, is that the “Harm Principle” is widely applied in modern society, without actually explaining what this principle is or how it contributed to philosophy itself. I showed that the negative/positive conception of liberty goes back to Kant and that Kant was a key figure in autonomy in moral and political philosophy, and influenced figures such as Rawls. I don’t believe that Con has offered sufficient reason to view Mill’s contributions as superior to Kant’s
Very well. Mill helped acceptance of women in philosophy. That is notable but does not compare to Kant’s contributions to philosophy in general and the course that philosophy took. Moreover, Mill is just one figure in a line of feminist thinkers. Without Mill, it remains dubious how much impaired female philosophical development would be.
Philosophy of religion; arguments for God
Con concedes Kant’s higher importance here but maintains that Mill provided contributions of his own. I have nothing further to add or dispute.
Metaphysics: Kant initiated a philosophical revolution and changed the face of philosophy with great originality and ingenuity. Mill merely provided depth and influence to empiricism and is overshadowed by other empiricists such as Locke, Berkeley, and Hume.
Epistemology: same as metaphysics.
Ethics: Kant is the central figure of deontology ethics and created his own original theory. Mill is the second most important utilitarian figure and developed Bentham’s original theory. Both are truly great persons in ethical philosophy, but Kant’s significance outweighs Mills.
Aesthetics: Con concedes that Kant’s contributions were greater
Logic: Many of the greatest logicians were inspired by Kant’s views. Logic was central to much of Kant’s critical philosophy and stands at a crucial point in the history of logic.
Liberty: Kant was a key figure in autonomy in moral and political philosophy.
Women: Mill was undeniably of greater importance, but, philosophically speaking, this has the least bearing on the development of philosophy.
Philosophy of religion: Con concedes that Kant’s contributions outweigh Mill’s.
To close, I would simply pose the following question: where would philosophy be without Kant and where would it be without Mill?
Without Mill, we would still have empiricism and we would still have utilitarianism. They would simply lose an important champion. On the other hand, without Kant, it is impossible to imagine where philosophy would be today. His revolutionary theories changed the very nature of philosophy.
Kant was of paramount importance to the development of philosophy and surpasses Mill.
Thank you Phantom for a great debate. This has been fun.
As this has been a long debate I will be brief.
As referenced earlier… “he (John Stuart Mill) gave them (empiricism, and utilitarianism) a new depth, and his formulations were sufficiently articulate to gain for them a continuing influence among a broad public.”
Pro says “The influence mentioned is of the broad general public. There’s no reason to say empiricism was not still influential in philosophical discourse. Indeed, the broad general public is not entirely relevant unless they contribute themselves to the development of philosophy, which layman do not, really.”
I contend that to have such an influence on the general public when promoting philosophical ideals is to very heavily influence philosophy itself. Indeed, to interest and engage layman in philosophy promotes philosophy to new realms of influence.
Development was defined earlier as ““the act or process of growing or causing something to grow or become larger or more advanced”
It is largely due to the idea of growth or advancement that I defend Mill in this comparison. Kant’s work was foundational and very important. He laid ground work that needed to be laid. Mill through influence caused growth and advancement. Both in theory, and especially in practice. The appeal to the layman increases general interest and awareness in philosophy. In this regard Mill is without a doubt of great importance.
Due to this understanding of importance and development, we can conclude that John Stuart Mill was more important than Immanuel Kant to the development of philosophy.
Thanks for reading! vote con....