Make sure your Knowledge Questions focus on the Prescribed Title and lead to an in-depth discussion of knowledge in Real Life Examples.
A single Knowledge Question does not need to include all of the key terms in the Prescribed Title. However, each Claim/Counterclaim section of your essay should discuss as much of the Prescribed Title as possible. The essay as a whole must comprehensively address the entire Prescribed Title.
The knowledge questions below are some basic knowledge questions derived from each prescribed title. Consider these basic knowledge questions the starting point for developing more refined knowledge questions for a TOK essay. Many of the knowledge questions on this page are quite broad and are not necessarily “finished” or essay-ready knowledge questions. They could be rephrased / re-focused later on in the essay development process once you have made decisions about your essay’s AOKs, real-life examples, etc. Keep in mind that you want some variety in your knowledge questions as well.
Make sure you look extensively at past sample TOK essays to get a better idea of what kinds of TOK questions are suitable for an essay.
Some knowledge questions below may only address one element of a prescribed title. You need to make sure though that your essay as a whole addresses all aspects of the prescribed title. During the planning stages and later on throughout the process make sure you look at your knowledge questions, claims, counterclaims, etc to make sure your essay addresses all of the key parts of the prescribed title.
Make sure you have a look at the page on key terms and phrases in the November 2021 titles to get a better understanding of the key terms and phrases in each prescribed title.
1. Why is it so difficult to identify a clear line between accepted and disputed knowledge within a discipline? Answer with reference to two disciplines, each taken from a different area of knowledge.
To what extent does peer review help differentiate between accepted and disputed knowledge?
How does nationality affect whether knowledge is accepted or disputed?
To what extent is the difficulty in accepting historical knowledge due to politics?
How is technology used to distinguish between accepted and disputed knowledge?
What role does emotion play in distinguishing between accepted and disputed knowledge?
2. “Knowledge gained through direct experience is powerful but problematic.” To what extent do you agree with this statement?
To what extent is the knowledge gained through direct experience in the arts biased?
“Biased” in this case refers to “problematic.”
In what ways does knowledge gained through direct experience have a powerful impact on ________________?
How is reason used to limit the problems from knowledge gained through direct experience?
How does historical knowledge gained through direct experience help remove the problem of ___________?
What effect does the use of personal testimony have on knowledge in ____________?
“Personal testimony” in this case refers to “direct experience.”
3. “There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact” (Arthur Conan Doyle). Discuss this claim with reference to two areas of knowledge.
To what extent can acknowledged facts in the sciences be trusted?
To what extent do ethical disputes influence the reception of obvious facts?
How does language affect the reception of facts?
To what extent does literature have obvious facts?
4. “Areas of knowledge always rely on a systematic process of trial and error to aid the production of knowledge.” Discuss this claim with reference to two areas of knowledge.
To what extent does mathematics always rely on a systematic process of trial and error to aid the production of knowledge?
What effect does standardization in the sciences aid in the production of knowledge?
(This knowledge question doesn’t specifically link “standardization” to “a systematic process of trial and error” but that would be clarified / elaborated in the analysis).
What effect does peer review have on historical knowledge?
5. “If all knowledge is provisional, when can we have confidence in what we claim to know?” Answer with reference to two areas of knowledge.
To what extent is ethical knowledge provisional?
How do changes in medical knowledge affect confidence in medical treatment?
To what extent is religious knowledge provisional?
How do changes in the arts affect understanding of older works of art?
6. “We are rarely completely certain, but we are frequently certain enough.” Discuss this statement with reference to two areas of knowledge.
What is necessary for scientific knowledge to have certainty?
How does technology improve certainty in historical research?
How does language affect the certainty of knowledge in the arts?
What effect does culture have on the certainty of knowledge?