1. “Accepting knowledge claims always involves an element of trust.” Discuss this claim with reference to two areas of knowledge.
Accepting – What does accepting mean in a particular AOK or RLE? In history and the sciences having research published is to an extent an indication of trust in the original research. That trust is limited, however. Consider how ideas in other AOKs are accepted.
Always – Part of the essay should look at situations where there is an element of trust involved and ones where is not necessarily an element of trust
Element of trust – Look into the role trust plays in different in different AOKs and RLEs.
2. Within areas of knowledge, how can we differentiate between change and progress? Answer with reference to two areas of knowledge.
How can we differentiate – consider how change and progress are differentiated in different AOKs and RLEs.
Change and progress – change is treated quite differently in different AOKs and RLEs. For example, in some cases change and progress are made through a systemic and rigorous process. In others, it is more individualistic.
Also, different people and groups can look at the same change and not agree whether or not progress has been made.
Look carefully at the knowledge framework for each AOK for this Prescribed Title. Evaluate how different parts of the knowledge framework are linked to change and progress.
3. “Labels are a necessity in the organization of knowledge, but they also constrain our understanding.” Discuss this statement with reference to two areas of knowledge.
Labels – labels are used to different between different kinds of organisms, different schools of philosophy, different kinds of art, etc. The focus with this prescribed title is how labels are used to organize knowledge. Make sure you look for RLEs where labels are used in this way.
Also, consider how organizational labels can be used for different purposes. A politician may try to label an opponent’s proposal in a particular way just to create a negative impression of it.
Necessity – Evaluate why labels are necessary in an AOK – look at the knowledge framework for guidance. Check how and why the use of labels is necessary in RLEs.
Organization of knowledge – How is knowledge organized in a AOK and what role do labels play? How important is it in each AOK to have knowledge organized in systemic way? How does the use of labels compare and contrast in different AOKs?
Constrain our understanding – How does the use of labels constrain understanding? Do labels in an RLE oversimplify complex ideas? Do they dissuade people from seeing how elements of an RLE don’t fit the label? Are the parts of an RLE that fit a label given too much importance the parts that don’t? Do labels prevent creative thinking?
4. “Statistics conceal as much as they reveal.” Discuss this claim with reference to two areas of knowledge.
Statistics – There are a number of statistics used in different ways for different purposes. Some AOKs rely heavily on statistics while others use them relatively sparingly. However, it would be a mistake to assume that you could not find or use an RLE from the arts or ethics, for example, with this prescribed title.
Conceal / reveal – There are a number of ways that statistics can be employed in relatively neutral or biased ways to conceal or reveal. You need to clearly identify how statistics are being used to conceal or reveal in the RLEs in your essay.
“Conceal” has negative connotations while “reveal” has positive ones. This does mean though that “concealing” is always negative or “revealing” is always positive. One could easily find where, for example, Nazi Germany used statistics to “reveal” completely untrue facts about Jewish people. Others would definitely look at the same set of numbers and come to the conclusion that the Nazi regime was concealing, not revealing. Keep this in mind: one person’s “conceal” may be another person’s “reveal.”
Even modern and democratic governments and opposition parties use and misuse statistics to conceal and reveal important information. Unemployment rates, for example, can vary wildly depending on the definition of “unemployed.”
5. “Areas of knowledge are most useful in combination with each other.” Discuss this claim with reference to two areas of knowledge.
This prescribed title is similar in some ways to a prescribed title from the November 2015 session: “No knowledge can be produced by a single way of knowing.” It might be beneficial to try and track down sample TOK essays on this prescribed title to see how students then approached this somewhat similar title.
Most useful – this is quite an interesting phrase to consider – how does one define when mathematics or history is “most useful”? Also, there may be little overlap between when one AOK is viewed as useful compared to another.
There are significant differences in opinion from one person / organization to the next when an AOK is most useful. For example, one type of art critic may view the arts as “most useful” when it addresses social issues while another type of art critic could view the arts as “most useful” when it is solely concerned with aesthetics.
In combination – Evaluate carefully how two AOKs act in combination work together. This may differ wildly between different RLEs even with the same two AOKs. Also keep in mind that in many RLEs one AOK may be much more important than other. Just because two AOKs are “in combination” doesn’t they play equal or similar roles in an RLE.
6. “Avoiding bias seems a commendable goal, but this fails to recognize the positive role that bias can play in the pursuit of knowledge.” Discuss this statement with reference to two areas of knowledge.
Avoiding bias – How is bias avoided in different AOKs and RLEs? In some cases experimental methodology helps reduce bias. Public debates are a quite different way to possible avoid bias and both sides have an equal opportunity to present their argument. In some cases bias is not necessarily something that people try to avoid.
Commendable goal – Why in a particular AOK or RLE is a “commendable” to reduce bias? Does it lead to more accurate knowledge, for example? Or does it lead to a more neutral understanding of knowledge that has already been produced?
Positive role that bias can play – How does bias play a positive role in a particular AOK or RLE? For example, a bias against processed / fast foods may lead a person to better health even with brands / foods they have not tried before. A bias against a news website that has published a number of false new articles in the past is completely justified. A quick Google search can lead you to a number of different situations where bias plays a positive role.
Pursuit of knowledge – Make sure it is clear in your RLEs exactly where and what the “pursuit of knowledge” is. It also needs to be perfectly clear how bias has a positive or negative on the pursuit of knowledge in an RLE.