HCCS Galileo Essay


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 


  • Task:

Write an essay of at least 5-6 paragraphs that address the following questions:

  • 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. 

Questions: 1. What would John Locke say about this? Would he agree with Galileo? Why or Why not? 2. Would George Berkeley agree? Why or Why not?  3. Do you agree? why or why not?

Use the template below for your answer.


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

(1) In your introductory paragraph 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) At the end of your introductory paragraph state your thesis. I ________, because ________.  [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.”  

(3) In your next paragraph introduce John Locke to your reader. Then write, John Locke would  ______ .  Fill in the blank with (a) “agree with Galileo because…” or (b) “disagree with Galileo because…”  [Explain why Locke would agree or disagree with Galileo. You should include a definition and explanation of indirect realism. It should also include definitions and an explanation of Locke’s primary vs secondary quality distinction. You will probably need at least two paragraphs for this part of the paper. If you explain Locke’s theory you also should define and explain indirect realism as well as Primary and Secondary qualities. Use examples.]

(4) In the next section introduce George Berkeley to your reader. Then write, George Berkeley would ______. Fill in the blank with (a) “agree with Galileo because…” or (b) “disagree with Galileo because…” [explain why Berkeley would agree or disagree with Galileo. You should include definitions of materialism and idealism, and an explanation of how these ideas apply to Galileo’s claim.

(5) In the last section of your paper explain why you agree or disagree with Galileo. You must support your view with an argument. You could use ideas from Locke or Berkeley or explain why you think they are mistaken. Start this section by reminding the reader what your view is, then offer supporting reasons for why your reader should accept your view.

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). 

* See MLA helpsheet Download MLA helpsheet

or APA citation HELPSHEET .pdf Download APA citation HELPSHEET .pdffor how to include citations and bibliography.

*Explain short quotes fully. See Professional Writing: Quotations 

*Explain sufficiently and clearly, as if you were conversing with a stranger who has not read the material. See Professional Writing Skills: Structure

*Write your essay in a word processor to save your work. Paste your essay into the “reply” box in the Discussion post.

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