Sunday, November 11, 2012

Responses (May 2013) — Summary

The list of IB TOK Prescribed Titles for May 2013 (with some of my personal one-line responses) is summarised in this post.
  1. In what ways may disagreement aid the pursuit of knowledge in the natural and human sciences?
  2. "Only seeing general patterns can give us knowledge. Only seeing particular examples can give us understanding." To what extent do you agree with these assertions?
  3. "The possession of knowledge carries an ethical responsibility." Evaluate this claim.
  4. The traditional TOK diagram indicates four ways of knowing. Propose the inclusion of a fifth way of knowing selected from intuition, memory or imagination, and explore the knowledge issues it may raise in two areas of knowledge.
  5. "That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence." — Christopher Hitchens. Do you agree?
  6. Can we know when to trust our emotions in the pursuit of knowledge? Consider history and one other area of knowledge.
For #1, you could first frame the sciences in terms of dialogue between contention and refutation. Or you could try natural history vs natural philosophy and the problem of validation.

For #2, you could attempt to define understanding and knowledge first, before debating how much various ways of perception can help you with them.

For #3, you could think about what ethics and an 'ethical responsibility' are, and what kinds of things place an ethical burden upon you.

For #4, you would probably have to think of intuition, memory and imagination as brain phenomena. There are several posts about each of them somewhere in this blog.

For #5, the obvious rejoinder (and one given by Hitchens' opponent in a debate) is, "What's the evidence for saying this in the first place, Mr Hitchens?" But there are depths to it.

For #6, the point is to think about whether you can know this at all. The rest is gravy.

I'll follow up on some (possibly all) of these questions in the days ahead.

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