How do I evaluate/ analyse knowledge issues?

This is a crucial skill to get good at in TOK.  It’s one skill to identify a knowledge issue, but it’s another skill to analyse them successfully and to bring your own critical thought to bear upon them.

The Vicky Pollard approach of ‘yeah, but no, but’ is not good enough when it comes to analysing knowledge issues!

Instead  think intelligently  and apply your own critical thought to the question.  Consider this check-list:

1.       What are the ‘two sides’ to the knowledge issue?

2.       What underlying assumptions might be made by the two ‘sides’ or two different ‘knowledge claims’?

3.       What implications might both knowledge claims have? So, if it is the case that x, it follows (or does not follow) that y…?

4.       Which ‘side’ is more convincing and why?

5.       Weigh up the claims made by each side and reach your own judgement.

All TOK essay titles are knowledge questions. Here’s an example – ‘Evaluate the role of intuition in different areas of knowledge.’ (A prescribed essay title from May 2008) It’s worth reading examples of good essays. You can buy samples here from the IBO store.


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