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ToK Presentation Guide

Knowledge Issues
'Knowledge issue' i.e. issues about knowledge. It would be appropriate here to consider what ToK is all about. Many naturally assume that anything philosophically based is ToK. Understandable, but wrong. ToK is based around three main questions:   What is knowledge? How is knowledge acquired? How do we know what we know? In layman’s terms, a knowledge issue is a very general question which aims to explore the problems of knowledge and evaluate it. Thus, knowledge issues are usually formatted in the form of ‘How do we know…?’ (this deals with question 3) However, there are other forms such as ‘What is the role of [a way of knowing] in [an area of knowledge]?’ (this deals with question 2).

The knowledge issue must be stated in the introduction of your presentation as it is what your presentation is all about.

For example, ‘To what extend is euthanasia ethical?’ is not a knowledge issue as it does not attempt to answer any of the three basic questions. ‘What ways of knowing can aid us in determining whether euthanasia is ethical?’ is not a well formed main knowledge issue because it is too specific, but at least it is a knowledge issue which deals with question 2.

‘Derived / Sub-’ Knowledge Issues
These are knowledge issues in themselves but are connected to the main theme or main knowledge issue of the presentation and are possibly more focused in nature.

For example, if your main knowledge issue is ‘What is the role of reason in History?’ a linking knowledge issue you could explore would be ‘How can we use Historical knowledge and inductive reasoning to predict future events?’ Your entire presentation should be based around the main knowledge issue and your main theme, but this sub-knowledge issue will allow you to explore one small aspect of 'the role of reason in History'.

Claims and Counter-claims
These are statements which are answers to your knowledge issue or sub-knowledge issues. They are then proceeded with evidence that supports such a point. In a way you can treat this as a paragraph in an essay, its structure is similar to the Point Evidence Explaination (PEE) or Statement Evidence eXplaination (SEX) which you may be familiar with.

For example, for the knowledge issue ‘How do we know whether homosexuality is ‘natural’?’ A claim would be ‘deductive reasoning can tell us that it is not natural. the natural goal of all living things on earth is to reproduce; homosexuality does not allow the possibility of biological reproduction; therefore homosexuality is not 'natural'. A counter-claim would be that ‘deductive reasoning has its limitations in aiding us to determine whether homosexuality is natural.’ A discussion on the flaws of premises and reliability of deductive reasoning would then take place.

Real Life Situation
A real life situation is a realistic event, object or scenario that allows you to extract knowledge issues from it or supports your claim, a possible answer to your knowledge issue, by providing evidence. Real life situations can be drawn form anywhere ranging from the news to a book your read to an event that happened on the school playground. The possibilities are endless. Always try to make your real life situation related to you in some way; an incident which happened to you would be perfect.

For example, for the knowledge issue ‘How reliable are our sense perceptions in determining what is true.’ For the claim/counter-claim: ‘Sense perceptions have their limitations in determining what is true,’ a real life situation would be, ‘The time when I was small and saw a ghost’s face appear in the curtain, upon further inspection, it was the folds of the curtain that had shaped into something similar to a man’s face. With the combination of flawed inductive reasoning, sense perception had hindered my knowledge of truth.’

Getting Started
There are two main ways to get yourself started. is to find a real life situation which really interests you. You will extract one knowledge issue from it and simplify it to make it into your main knowledge issue your presentation will be based on. From there you find sub-knowledge issues and more real life scenarios to support your claims and counter claims. is to think of a broad knowledge issue, derive sub-knowledge issues which you wish to explore and find real life situations from there. There are many ways to do your presentation. It can be a simple lecture, a power point presentation, (if your are in pairs) a dialogue, a role play ect.

The entire presentation should be like a verbal essay, with a focused introduction introducing the main issues, your methodology and how the presentation is structured. A claim should be given first, evidence to support the claim, then the limitations of the claim or a counter claim. The conclusion should sum up the main points in the presentation, it is an opportunity to give your opinion (great for scoring marks on the Knower’s Perspective criteria).


Presenting
As with any presentation, practice makes perfect. Make sure you can be heard clearly and that you articulate yourself well. The nice thing about the presentation is that since it is verbal it allows you to create a lot of links. E.g. ‘referring back to the first slide of the presentation’, ‘this scenario is very similar to the tax the government is enacting next month isn’t it?’ Create a set of notes to aid you so that you know what you will be discussing next. With power points do not cram everything onto the slide, each slide should only have a max of 5 points, they should not be sentences. When showing pictures, make sure it covers the entire slide, what’s the point of having a picture when it's of minute size shoved in the corner?

Most people are scared of the questions at the end, don’t be. The questions asked by your teacher are there to help you. If you’ve missed something in your presentation that is key to answering the knowledge issue, this is the opportunity to gain back marks. If you can’t answer the question simply make a statement or give an opinion. A classic way of avoiding questions is to make your own question, ‘That’s a very good question, but I think the main issue here is….’ But try to answer them because they are very likely to be beneficial. Secondly, the audience can ask questions too. Do not plant a question in the audience; it is obvious and creates a bad impression.

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