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May 2014 1. "Ethical judgments limit the methods available in the production of knowledge in both the arts and the natural sciences"

Hey guys, I'm currently doing the TOK essay topic "Ethical judgments limit the methods available in the production of knowledge in both the arts and the natural sciences"

And so for my examples, I will use the
1.Tuskegee syphilis experiment (Unethical testing on a slective race (negros))
2. The Degenerate Museum in Germany (Deems certain artwork and artists unethical due to race or message within artwork)

3. Lysenko Ethics on crops (Lysenko uses irrationality to boast his methods on raising crops, impeding reasoning)

So for my claims and counter claimsin respect to my examples are:

1. Claim: Being unable to test on humans may not allow us to gain information, as it rules out one method avaible in the production of knowledge.

Counter Claim: Although some people may see testing on human beings as unethical, it isn't really, it just makes us more innovative and makes us strive to achieve the same solution but with a different method.

2. Claim: Irrationality and ethical judgments has clouded the Nazi's judgment of what is actual "good art", and therefore, limits a product/method available in the production of knowledge.

Counter Claim: ???

3. Claim: Irrationality super-cedes reasoning. The ethical judgment made by Lysenko has made Russia focus on his method, even though it isn't effective.

Counter Claim: ???

So from this, I obviously need help on ideas for counter claims for 2 and 3.


What do I do about knowledge issues? How do I fit that in?

Possible counterclaims for 2 & 3 or other examples/KI I should use

Are my points for 2 and 3 too similar?

Is my claim on 3. too off-topic? It uses irrationality more so than ethics.

How many examples and pairs of claims/counter claims should I have?

Anything I should consider?

Thanks Guys!

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I just finished my essay on this question. I dont know if I did well, but my tok teacher was really good in explaining this.

This question is basically asking whether or not ethics prevents the methods used by scientists and artists to produce knowledge.

1. Intro, interpret question/title, raise possible KI's like should we compromise ethics in order to produce useful knowledge?

2. Define ethics and which WoKs are used by people to create ethical judgements. Point out problems of applying ethical judgements universally.

3. Define Natural sciences and which Woks it uses.
- First claim should be example(s) of scientific research which uses unethical methods to gain knowledge. Your Tuskgee syphilis expereiment is an ideal example. Give examples of other unethical experiemtns or technology like privacy issues related to Backscatter X-ray scans in airports.

- Counter claim- slightly like what you said. Natural sciences nature is to prove & disprove, and this aspect helps it to advance & become more innovative. Examples of research that has contributed beneficial knowledge to produce medical treatments to treat illnesses & reduce human suffering. A counter claim to the x ray scans in airports could be that it helps prevent terrorist attacks/ events that could result in many deaths.

4. Define Arts and which WoKs it uses (language and emotion).

- The first claim in this AoK should be an example of artwork that produces unethical knowledge. You could give a specific painting from the Degenerate Museum which expresses sth unethical knowledge and say why it is unethical (e.g it insults German women/soldiers/farmers). Tattoos are another good example.

- The counter-claim to this would be that because art involves emotion, it is a form of individual expression, therefore it represents the artists' own views and is not intended for anything else. Give an example of when art has been used to produce knowledge that is ethical, maybe when it has been used to communicate a message to teach people sth. Eg. War art: vietnam war's "Napalm Girl" photo. Whilst people may argue that it is unethical to display nudity, it was one of many documentations of the atrocities being commited in vietnam which helped change US public opinion against the war. It showcased the unjust suffering of innocent vietnamese civilians.

Talk about implications in other Aoks and of limiting/not limiting certain methods throughout the essay, personal examples, cultural relativitsm.

Hope this was helpful, tried to keep this simple because tok can get overcomplicated & confusing :)

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Wow, that explanation really helped, but I still have some questions.

So, for the KI, I basically state some knowledge issues in the intro that coorelates to my claims/counter claims?

Also what do you mean by "Talk about implications in others Aoks and of limiting/not limiting certain methods throughout essay"? Shouldn't I just keep it to art and science? I feel if I went to other Aoks, I would waste my word count and go offtopic.

Also, you think just two pairs of claims/counter claims is enough?

I guess from this, I'll use 3 examples:

1. Tuskegee syphilis (should I use just this for claim and counterclaim, or use another experiment? I intended to basically say that this method did help us get results, however different experimentations or ethical practices could be used. (Like informing specifically what the test was, not limiting subjects by race, allowing subjects to test themselves out of free will)

2. Degenerate Museum

3. Napalm Girl

And yea, I guess im tossing out the lysenko since I don't really need it, unless you think I need more examples or claims

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Yes, you have to mention your KI's throughout your essay's claims and counter claims, but you also have to mention some of these in the intro.

The maarkscheme says to include implications of restricting/not restricting methods used to produce knowledge in art & NS. You'd probrarbly get extra marks if you also mention good implications in other aoks, e.g. research methods in psychology. But yes, I didnt do this because I was running out of words and tok can make people very long-winded haha!

Two pairs of claims/counterclaims for each AoK is perfectly fine but include two or more examples for each claim/counter-claim. Cultural relativism is also another claim and the counter claim for this would be talking about the dangers of not universalising ethical judgements.

It would look sth like this (ive suggested some examples if you want to use them):


Ethics- which woks ppl use to formulate ethical judgments

Natural sciences methods should be limited (claim): Tuskegee syphilis, airport x-rays, animal research
Natural sciences methods shouldnt be limited (counter-claim): Cloning, stem cell research

Arts methods should be limited (claim): Degenerate museum, tattoos, Banksy (political-graffiti activist), Ai Wei Wei

Arts methods shouldnt be limited (counter-claim): Napalm Girl, Pussy Riot, Banksy, Ai Wei Wei

Cultural relativism (claim): ethics is subjective, imposed by variety of cultures. Ethical codes vary depending on culture, no universal ethical codes.

Should be universal ethical codes (counter-claim): If there are no universal ethical codes, sceintific research which is not beneficial or has no scientific value, and art that is unethical will get away without punishment. Examples: Nazi experiments.


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Okay so my first draft is due this week and I have my basic ideas and examples. But I am very confused on the structure of my essay.

My knowledge issues are on the lines of :

To what extent do ethical considerations constrain the way the arts are created?

To what extent do ethical concerns limit natural science experimentation and research?

Firstly is it okay if I have only two KIs?

I know the most important thing that leads to the failing of most essays is that people go off point and dont answer the question. So would I have to state what my KIs are in the introduction itself and then go on to analyse each one separately in separate paragraphs or do I answer both (note that they are both very different AoKs) in each paragraph I write in the main body of the essay?

Right now my plan is to answer each KI separately, maybe have 2 or 3 paragraphs, examples and counterclaims for each KI.

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I actually think both KI are very similar. Just by glancing the KI, I don't know see the difference between 'limit' and 'constrain', so I don't know why you need to use 2 different words there. If there is no subtle distinction between them, you can just combine them into one KI. I think your KI is actually just a more specific phrasing of the KI. If you're worried about not answering the question, reword your KI to contain words that appear in the question given. And yes, do state your KI in the introduction.

You can analyse each one separately in separate paragraphs. In the essay I did, I analysed how each AOK agreed to the question in separate paragraphs, and then in the second half of my essay, how each AOK disagreed to the question. So I structured my essay based on agree/disagree, then AOK.

From your plan, it sounds like you're planning to structure your essay Art agree/Art disagree then science agree/science disagree. The one problem I see with that is that it is very hard to link the arguments for both the AOKs. It is not a very good idea to have just one paragraph comparing how they're different; it would be better if the comparison was integrated in the paragraphs nicely.

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