• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

All knowledge claims should be open to rational criticism. On what grounds and to what extent would you agree with this assertion?

Extracts from this document...


Rational Criticism in Knowledge Claims #6: All knowledge claims should be open to rational criticism. On what grounds and to what extent would you agree with this assertion? Henry Deng IB Candidate Number: Theory of Knowledge International Baccalaureate Programme Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School Ms. Patton 16 April 2009 Henry Deng Ms. Patton IB TOK 11 16 April 2009 Criticism, as proposed by Karl Popper, is "the lifeblood of all rational thought." At a first glance, one may agree with this because by critically questioning or evaluating the validity of a knowledge claim through reason, it can provide one with certainty and truth. However, the assertion that: "All knowledge claims should be open to rational criticism" gives us an alternative judgement as the word "should" is not definitive and this perhaps suggests that it is necessary to consider other viewpoints. Through inductive and deductive reasoning, we can test knowledge claims and indicate the grounds of which the claim is based on. Yet, as evidenced by Victor Johnson's hedonic tone theory and the notion of altruism, emotion plays an important role in our reasoning process which asks the question of whether rational criticism is free of these emotional motives. In mathematics, people tend to accept knowledge claims like: the sum of a triangle's internal angles is equal to 180 degrees, without a rational basis. ...read more.


To further illustrate my point, a panel of referees published Hale's proof of Kepler's sphere packing conjecture (by packing balls using the face-centred cubic method, it will create the highest average density) even though it was only 99% certain. (par. 13) The acceptance of even the smallest uncertainties, show that reason alone may actually be a hindrance to mathematics because we cannot, or simply do not have the time, to evaluate the truth of every knowledge claim - as established before, sometimes these truths cannot be provable. When emotions such as curiosity are present with the reasoning process, mathematicians are able to tweak pre-existing proofs with their own cognitive abilities and although complete certainty may not be achievable, high precision can be obtained. Although math once followed the concept of rigorous proof, modern math has changed. Due to the limitations of deductive reasoning, some mathematicians have claimed that instead of proofs, abstract concepts such as real life situations can be modelled with computer-run experiments. Certainty may still be possible without rigorous proof but as of yet, it is too early to identify the flaws embedded in computer technology. An area of knowledge that is usually regarded as less certain than mathematics or the sciences is the arts. When one watches an episode of American Idol (a singing competition), one may wonder if claims related to a contestant's singing can be criticized with appropriate grounds. ...read more.


The judges of American Idol use a similar process: when a number of contestants possess similar abilities, they employ emotions such as amazement or curiosity, to decide which singer has the personality of a "superstar". One interesting point about art is that it can describe the world in a plethora of ways, from experiences in the physical world to the supernatural. Due to this abstract nature, many people have claimed that art can provide important insight into the way we understand the world through interpretation. This indicates that knowledge gained through subjectivity is not always unreliable, and perhaps there is an element of certainty gained instead. Although we can evaluate knowledge claims in the arts, other ways of knowing should be considered during processes of reasoning. Pythagoreans thought that only rational numbers existed in mathematics. After taking the square root of two, they realized that there were also irrational numbers and as a result, one of their fundamental truths was broken. As can be seen, when emotion, language, and perception are combined with the reasoning process, we can acquire truths through not only objectivity but also subjectivity. Knowledge claims in mathematics and the arts can be open to rational criticism, but reason alone may actually prevent the progress of both areas. By referring to this information, it is likely that these trends will occur in the other areas of knowledge. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge essays

  1. Rational Criticism - TOK

    It's an undeniable fact that with the addition of two more pairs of socks, that person would have a total of three pairs. Hence, one can use rational criticism to reason out this scenario. This type of reasoning is also known as analytic truths.

  2. To what extent is truth different in mathematics, the arts and ethics?

    Yet, from the cop's perspective, he probably thought his action to be ethical because he was only trying to maintain public safety and enforce the law. There are two contradictory "soft" truths here, but both are right. In this case, there is a blending of emotions and obligations with ethics,

  1. To what extent is truth different in mathematics, arts, and ethics?

    Of course in the Western world, social reaction towards such a thing is negligible by comparison. But for something like casual violence on children the binary of reactions is reversed. However, despite these obvious differences, some notions are perceived by all cultures to be equally heinous, such as murder, proving

  2. TOK summer assignment - Art Questions. Experiencing art, artists reputations and "what is ...

    The further I went into the sections the brushstrokes were really exaggerated by the artists with little shading. This contributed to the use of solid and vibrant colours. In room 108, where the Group of Seven artists' paintings were present, the brushstrokes seemed to soften and become blended again to emphasize the detail in nature.

  1. The knowledge that we value the most is the knowledge for which we can ...

    Justifications based on perception are an example. Normally, humans trust their senses to gather information about their environment and surroundings, and believe it to be true. A person's own perceptions are considered, from their own points of view, one of the strongest justifications for knowledge. If a flying carpet appeared in front of a man, despite violating

  2. The extent and type of our language defines our knowledge of the world. Do ...

    and many other subjects, regardless the language in which he is learning. Generally we know things because we are familiar with them because of experiences or what we have been told.

  1. TOk Discussion - Do we impose mathematics upon nature or is it naturally inherent ...

    Fermat's last theorem, which was solved by a modern mathematician, is very long and complicated. But the discovery moved the mathematician to tears, because it was so beautiful. A: As well, a theorem may not have to demonstrate all these qualities.

  2. TOK. Consider the extent to which complete certainty might be achievable in mathematics and ...

    So you conclude that the only day to go to the dry cleaner is today. You make your decision based on that logic. This is an example of your logical thinking. You state a problem, you find solutions, and at the end you come to a conclusion which all of your reasons have produced evidence to support it.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work