Idea–Expression Distinction

Practice expressing your ideas clearly and concisely in writing.
Practice critical thinking by evaluating theories and constructing your own argument.
Demonstrate knowledge of key concepts and arguments in Epistemology including indirect realism, idealism, materialism, primary and secondary qualities.
Critique your own argument.
Resources (found in Modules: Personal Identity, Overview).

Refer to Stich Chapter 6

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For the Galileo case, refer to Stich and Donaldson “Discussion Question #4” page 117.



Write 4-5 paragraphs that address the following question:

In The Assayer, Galileo wrote: “If living creature were removed, [tastes, odors, and colors] would be wiped away and annihilated.” Galileo is suggesting that if there weren’t any animals or people with senses such as tasting, smelling and seeing, then there would be no such thing as tastes, odors, or colors. These properties or qualities are wholly dependent on there being creatures to perceive them.

“Do you agree with Galileo that if living creatures (animals and people) were removed, then there would be no tastes, odors, and colors? Why or why not? ” Use the template below for your answer.


The basic signposting in your response is: (do not number paragraphs)

(1) Explain the Galileo’s idea briefly to  your reader who does not know the case. [Focus on relevant details you will need to support your position.]

(2) I think ________, because ________.  [State your thesis. Fill in the blank with  (1) “agree with Galileo that without living creatures tastes, odors, and colors would not exist”  or (2) “Disagree with Galileo. Tastes, odors, and colors would exist without any living creatures to perceive them.”  Follow this thesis with sufficient explanation of an argument to support your position. That is, give a reason WHY you think tastes, odors, and colors would or would not exist without living creatures.

(3) My argument seems to rely on the ______ .  Fill in the blank with (1) “Locke’s indirect realism and the distinction between primary and secondary qualities” or (2) “Berkeley’s idealism.”  [Explain how this theory it supports your argument. If you explain Locke’s theory you also should define and explain indirect realism as well as Primary and Secondary qualities. Use examples. If you explain Berkeley’s theory,  you also should define and explain Idealism and Materialism.]

(4) One might object that _______. [Fill in the blank with a possible objection to the claim you support. You may use critiques from the Stich and Donaldson].

(5) Give a brief response to the objection.

Professional Writing Tips:

Include citations in every paragraph as (author, year, page number). Include bibliography at the end.

* Do NOT use the internet. Use the Stich and Donaldson or chapter only. Use of the internet will result in a failing grade.

* Write in essay style with paragraphs that connect with signposting. Keep your paragraphs separate (write one topic per paragraph).

For more information on Idea–Expression Distinction read this:

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