November 2016 Essay Titles

ToK students should get the exact titles from their teacher (to write the exact titles here would be a breach of copyright). What I’ve written here are rephrasing of the question, the command term, initial thoughts, potential KQ’s and approaches to each PT.

Now that I’ve finished marking May 2016 essays I thought that I’d have a quick look at the November 2016 essays. These are very much initial thoughts.

Remember that developing an argument for ToK PT’s is crucial, and subsequently the evaluation of that argument. As such I have focussed on potential arguments here (many others are available).

  1. Is acquisition of knowledge more recognition than judgment ? Evaluate.

Nice question ! Recognition vs Judgment. Is recognition more dependent on pre-learned patterns,and judgment more on anticipatory WoKs (such as intuition, emotion and reason) ?

I like this question because I think it will be fairly easy to develop counterclaims, such as acquisition is learning/discovery of knowledge whereas judgment is production of knowledge.

        2. Does increased availability of data always help production of knowledge ? Explore.

Great Question ! Possibly my favourite in the Nov 2016 Session.

This is such a great question because it allows real contrasts when considering the production of knowledge in different AoKs. Get deep into the methodology section of the Knowledge Frameworks if you’re considering this question.

As I consider this question I can immediately see the claim:

The number of data points required for acceptable knowledge production varies according to the AoK. The author could then compare minimalist art with the Hadron Collider.

Counterclaim: Individual data points represent a precedent history of multiple instances of knowledge production. In this claim it could be argued that minimalist art represents ‘more data’ than that which is produced by the Hadron Collider.

Of course you can have interesting arguments about what constitutes ‘data’ in each AoK, or according to each WoK. Remember to focus on the ToK, and not the RLS.

This is certainly a good question for those interested in the methodologies of Mathematics, Natural Sciences or Human Sciences and contrasting them with the less scientific AoKs such Arts, RKS & IKS .

3. Do conflicting KC’s always involve difference in perspectives ? Discuss.

This essay could be all about the term “perspective”. This is a contentious term, and students will need to have an all round discussion about the different ways in which the term can be applied in ToK. A dictionary definition will not suffice for a full discussion.

4. Is error as valuable as accuracy in knowledge production ? To what extent.

I see black swans, Karl Popper’s falsification theory, outliers, confirmation bias, narrative fallacy etc etc.

This is a lovely question because it gives such great opportunity to develop claim and counterclaim. Remember, you won’t score more than 4/10 if you can’t develop counterclaims, this question makes it easy to write counterclaims. For example:

Claim: Accuracy is knowledge in the Natural Sciences : If a theory in AoK Nat Sci is inaccurate then it is discarded, and does not constitute knowledge.

Counterclaim: Much knowledge, often labelled as factual, within the natural sciences is derived from the ‘least worst explanation’, or the eradication of all other possibilities. In these cases it’s the lowest level of error rather than highest level of accuracy which leads to knowledge production.

Think of the fun that Mathematicians could have writing about the ‘Margin of Error’ in response to this question….

5. Metaphor is essential for understanding, but not for knowledge. Evaluate.

Wow – there are some big chunky topics inside this PT ! What’s the difference between knowledge and understanding ? If something is deemed to be ‘essential’ then is it a necessary condition ? Are there defined criteria for metaphor ? Can metaphor exist in the lived world of experience or purely in the metaphysical world of language ? Can personal knowledge be understood as a complex of inter-relating metaphor ?

Good luck at keeping your response focussed on the PT. I’m having trouble keeping the initial thoughts focussed on the PT !

6. Do WoKs operate differently in personal & shared knowledge ? Assess.

In the May 2016 session PT#1 (Networks of WoKS) ran very close to this question. Many of the responses that I marked used PK & SK as a Knowledge Question, or Knowledge Claim.

This PT has a nice open feel to it, leaving the student lots of range to explore different AoKs, and various applications of the PK/SK intersection. There are many many different ways that this essay could be approached – here are just a few of my initial thoughts.

Contrast PK/SK in 2 different AoKs.

Take, for example, RKS & Maths. Choose a few WOKs:

Emotion – emotion as a WoK in both PK & SK spheres is welcome, and maybe the aim, in RKS. However, could be seen as a form of bias in both PK & SK terms in Maths.

Reason – in terms of falsification procedures Reason as a WoK is welcome in AoK Maths as both PK & SK, but may be deemed a punishable crime in SK terms in some RK, yet may be welcome in PK terms in some RKS.

Faith – is very much part of SK in RKS, and a valued part of PK. Could be argued that it is not part of SK in Maths, but has been an important part of knowledge production in PK sphere of mathematicians (for example see the history of the development of Fermatt’s Theorem).

Enjoy your writing !


3 thoughts on “November 2016 Essay Titles

  1. I love your blog. You actually make TOK look appealing to learn, which is a very big statement for me to say! Would you be so kind in expanding Question 2? I’m thinking of choosing that one, but I’m not sure.

      1. Thank you for your quick response! Hope you continue to aid every student with this wonderful page!

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