TOK In natural sciences, hypothesis evokes disagreement but

TOK Essay

Q.
“Robust knowledge requires both consensus and disagreement.” Discuss this claim
with reference to two areas of knowledge.

Robust
refers to the knowledge which is strong, sturdy and resilient to change.
Arguing whether knowledge can be accepted or claimed as knowledge, requires a
common agreement by authorities. Nonetheless, aspects that a specific theory
does not address are highlighted by criticism and disagreement. Moreover,
robust knowledge can be produced by reasoning as a predominant way of knowing
in the natural sciences along with deductive reasoning of hypotheses as a
method. Other ways of knowing such as faith plays an important role as the
knowledge produced by certain authority may be more credible than the other
irrespective of the reasoning. This can in turn reduce the accuracy of the
knowledge produced. However, the credibility of the authority increases the reliability.
This arises questions such as whether robust knowledge is more accurate or more
reliable. Does the Area of knowledge affect the robustness of knowledge? Or
whether different ways of knowing in an area of knowledge affect the accuracy
in return affecting the robustness.

In
natural sciences, hypothesis evokes disagreement but does the disagreement in NS always produce a knowledge that is robust
in nature? Disagreement is directly linked to lack of reasoning and
unintuitive knowledge produced. Ideally, a hypothesis undergoes deductive
reasoning after which it is replicated and verified. However, this cannot be
replicated in each and every case which increases the scope of criticism. On
top of this, counter intuitive hypotheses are less credited as well. In 1781,
William Herschel, a British astronomer hypothesized that the sun was inhabited
based on the fact that he had observed rings around the sun. Not only was he
unable to prove it, but his claim was rather far too counterintuitive and hence
was refuted. Since sense perception played a major role in the thought process
of Herschel, it was rather unreliable due to the inability to reason it. Hence
his sense perception steered his mind to hypothesize his claim, disregarding
other factors such as the mere possibility of such an event occurring or his
sense perception being deceptive. This directly relates to how lack of
consensus whereas extensive disagreement does not lead to robust knowledge.

On
the contrary, if a certain claim made by an authority is unintuitive but
justified with reasoning, it can aid in knowledge production. In string theory,
quantum physics, a law is used stating that the sum of all natural numbers is
shockingly   .    

This
result is used in areas of string theory and other areas of quantum mechanics.
Even though intuitively the answer to this sequence should be infinity, this
has been proved by the Riemann Zeta Function. Hence it is not necessary that a
counterintuitive yet reasoned claim has to be criticised but can be widely accepted
instead. However, there must be justification without which the hypothesis does
not satisfy the results obtained. To sum up, The AOK of natural science
revolves around justification of a claim irrespective of the nature of the
claim i.e. whether it is intuitive or not, with relevant justification it can
be accepted and disagreement can be avoided. This shows that even though the
theory received a lot of criticism it is still widely acceptable showing its
sturdiness.

The
knowledge framework in the AOK of history revolves around justifying the
evidences found and formulating plausible explanations. However, Can there be robustness even without
consensus or disagreement? Since History is based on the past and
archaeologists base their theories on the excavations and evidences found. The
knowledge produced is based on the matter of acceptability and interpretations.
The lack of acceptability will cause disagreement amongst authorities. In the
natural sciences where the process of reasoning and justification doesn’t start
from scratch since past experimentations help steer the knowledge production in
the right way. Unlike the natural sciences, knowledge production in History is
started over from the beginning. The several theories about the end of the Indus
valley civilisation prove the ambiguity in the AOK of history. It took several
years to find possible reasons due to the level of disagreement that was
underlying the progression of knowledge production. On the other hand, Even
though disagreement decelerates the knowledge production, it still aids in
finding accurate knowledge. The Taj Mahal, also known as Queen Mumtaz’s tomb,
was originally believed to be an ancient temple palace of Lord Shiva. This was
disproved by analysing the quality of the marble and its origin upon which this
theory was corrected. Hence even though the disagreement may slow down the
process, it certainly drives the knowledge production to produce robust
knowledge. Even though history revolves around interpretations, there is a great
level of analysis and documentation that governs this AOK. Hence, disagreement
may not be as prevalent in knowledge production in History as an AOK.

Consensus
plays an important role in acceptance of knowledge but to what extent does the
utility, acceptability and application of knowledge make it robust?  The newton’s theory of gravity was held
strong for decades till Einstein’s theory overpowered. However, it was the lack
of consensus which resisted the approval of Einstein’s theory. This denial led
to slowing down the progression of the theory of gravity. However Arthur
Eddington convinced the authorities by reasoning, experimentation and
justification that Einstein’s theory was more accurate than that of Newton.
Both, consensus between Arthur Eddington and the relevant authorities as well
as initial disagreement in Einstein’s theory led to the vigorous testing and
experimentation. This helped strengthen the idea of gravity making it far more
robust. However, consensus may not require disagreement in production of
knowledge. Wilson Greatbatch was working on an oscillator to record the heart
sounds in the late 1950s and accidentally put a wrong resistor. This made the
device give rhythmic electrical pulses which could be used to regulate a
heartbeat making a pacemaker. Hence it is not necessary for disagreement to
coexist with consensus to produce robust knowledge. Moreover, several
scientific research like this were conducted based on imagination and sudden
thoughts that evoked the will to conduct experiments. To conclude, criticising
theories in natural science isn’t always needed to produce accurate knowledge.

On
the other hand History as an area of knowledge, depending on interpretations
can include other factors for knowledge production. Does the method of the knowledge s produced affect the robustness? WOKs
such as sense perception, intuition, faith and to an extent act as a major
factor based on which knowledge is produced. For example, historians identified
that whales have evolved from a land mammal. This was deduced based on
intuition since both are mammals, reasoning based on the evidence found etc.
However, without consensus, the claim would’ve not been justified and widely
accepted as it is today. On the opposite side, WOKs may not need consensus. If
a theory is held to be very rigid and strong having very less scope for
interpretation, it can lead to robust knowledge as well since this reduces the
ambiguity that could underlie within the knowledge formed in this AOK. This can
be linked back to the knowledge question by proving that consensus in history
relies on acceptability of authorities in the presence of sufficient data used
for reasoning and justification. Hence, consensus is heavily affected by the
WOKs that govern this AOK since the only scope of analysis is by various
interpretations which are derived from the sense perception followed by
justification of the evidence.

To
conclude robust knowledge does require both, consensus as well as disagreement
in a specific ratio such that they both are proportional and required to take
into account every aspect of the research before the data has been exponent.
However, consensus may not always play a role hand in hand with disagreement
since there are several cases where the way in which knowledge is produced is
not taken much into account the anomalous cases In the Natural sciences.
Moreover, producing robust knowledge can be equally affected by the WOKs in
both the areas of knowledge, Natural sciences and History. However, without the
relevant reasoning, knowledge produced with the help of various ways of knowing
is not advantageous. Moreover, the knowledge produced highly depends on the
acceptability and verifiability of knowledge since the knowledge produced must
be applicable and be used in various scenarios and not be limited to one
real-life example.

References

1)           
Chmarsh,
E. C. (n.d.). Theory of the Riemann Zeta
FunctionPDF. Clarendon Press
Oxford.

2)           
Robustness Synonyms, Robustness Antonyms. (n.d.). Retrieved January 18,
2018, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/robustness

3)           
Herschel, W. (1800, January 01). Observations Tending to Investigate the
Nature of the Sun, in Order to Find the Causes or Symptoms of Its Variable
Emission of Light and Heat; with Remarks on the Use That May Possibly Be drawn
from Solar Observations. Abstract. Retrieved January 18, 2018, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/107097

4)           
Begley, W. E. (1971). The myth of the Taj Mahal and a new theory of its
symbolic meaning. Retrieved January 19, 2018, from http://caa.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00043079.1979.10787632#.WmDQZKiWbb0

5)           
Coles, P. (2001, February 27). Einstein, Eddington and the 1919 Eclipse.
Retrieved January 18, 2018, from https://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/0102462

6)     
McDonald,
M. A., Mesnik, S. L., & Hildebrand, J. A. (2006, January 1). Biogeographic
characterization of blue whale song worldwide: Using song to identify
populations. Retrieved January 19, 2018, from https://cloudfront.escholarship.org/dist/prd/content/qt5r16c2mz/qt5r16c2mz.pdf