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hi, 

So I have my TOK presentation coming up and this is what I have so far. But I am not sure how good it is and wanted someone's opinion. 

This is my RLS: Dr. Andrew Wakefield falsely found a correlation between MMR vaccines and the causation of autism. This influenced anti-vaxxers, as they began to believe that they were right in their reasoning for not vaccinating their children. As a consequence, from this the measles broke out again in the US. (Claim: MMR vaccines cause autism) His study was based on 12 children – 8 reported to developed autism after receiving the vaccine and that the symptoms began to appear to weeks after

then my KQ is: To what extent do personal beliefs require epistemic justification to be valid? 

In order to analyse this I am looking at reasoning and faith in the natural sciences: claim: reasoning and faith are unreliable ways of knowing in the natural sciences. 

Then the justification of personal beliefs: claim: it is really important for personal beliefs to be justified, because otherwise they could evoke an ethical dilemma. 

Then I am looking at if justification of a belief can be achieved. Claim: a belief can be justified.

 

Then my conclusion is that: 

within the natural sciences, faith and beliefs are not reliable for obtaining valid knowledge. Reasoning is more reliable though, because it can be justified. 

Ethical dilemmas can arise if people do not justify their beliefs. But they can also emerge if people do. A belief can never truly be objectively justified. It can be  subjectively justified through opinions. 

- within the natural sciences, a belief would require justification to be valid. However; a belief would have to be justified through reason in this case, because a belief is not reliable for obtaining knowledge. It requires scientific justification to be valid.

- A belief can be however, be valid to a certain person, because they can subjectively justify their own beliefs. 

 

Relation to RLS: 

an anti-vaxxer does not require justification to be valid in their opinion not to vaccinate their children, because this is subjective and they can justify their own opinion. 

But within science, a belief would require justification, which there's doesn't, because science has proven that there is no link between vaccinations and autism. 

 

Any opinions or corrections would be very helpful. 

 

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Your presentation does not demonstrate that you have really learned anything in this class. Nothing you have said is blatantly wrong, but it is incomplete and one will likely reach these conclusions without even taking a single day of ToK: science needs objective evidence, but a person can be very satisfied with far less rigorous justifications. The underlying problem is that the KQ is way too broad. A secondary problem is in the structure: the claims should be more specific and detailed than the KQ, not just be re-wordings. 

The KQ should offer a general idea of what you want to explore. Unfortunately, "epistemic justification" and "valid" are not meaningful. You can mention the main AoKs or WoKs, and pin down a specific model of knowledge (eg correspondence, coherence, pragmatism). I would say for you personally, stay away from discussions of ethics because it does not look like you are familiar with main theories and branches, but I assume you have a working knowledge of what the scientific process strives to be. The purpose of a TOK presentation or essay is to discern and analyze the assumptions and implications of a knowledge claim. The Wakefield RLS is an excellent way to explore the necessary foundation for reasoning. His data were unreliable, not because he didn't use reasoning, but that the sample was not controlled or random, and there were likely motivations (personal, political, or commercial) to reach a pre-determined conclusion. What I just said should be obvious, but it is important that you be this detailed and explicit in the presentation and the essay. In fact if you are not careful, the same RLS can used to justify why reasoning is bad for science, because of how Wakefield's false reasoning still makes an impact today.

The secondary problem of structure could be partially eliminated once the KQ improves. The current outlines lacks flow. You are going into too many aspects without going deep in any one of them. After establishing what "good" reasoning looks like, perhaps in context of other WoKs, you can explore what is "validity" and discuss whether reasoning is the only path to it. (If it is, then do you see the problem of people like Wakefield proclaiming rationality for an ulterior motive? ). One important discussion is on the purpose of replications and peer-review, in context of establishing rationality and validity. You can still include personal/shared knowledge by being more careful and detailed about how certain personal beliefs are rejected by the scientific community, or for that matter, by any field of study. 

Hope that helps! Best of luck

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I agree with the above.

Personally I think you should approach this through ways of knowing. This is a classic case of the power of emotion as a way of knowing, and watching it take primacy when actually emotion is not a suitable way of knowing for interpreting the knowledge being presented. This is an example of the broader phenomenon of 'fake news'. Additionally you have abuse of logic as a way of knowing - Andrew Wakefield mis-represented his results and did not perform an adequate study to provide the answer he then went on to claim. I would say that this situation is an excellent example of ways of knowing being used incorrectly. It also really highlights the main flaw of reasoning as a way of knowing - that actually it's pretty useless in the setting of ignorance about the underlying concepts. If you don't know enough to understand why Wakefield's study was a load of rubbish, or understand enough about how vaccines work to understand the concept of herd immunity and so on, you're already working off the wrong foundations and will never reach accurate conclusions. For example, there's a whole load of people out there who if you told them the government was poisoning them with dihydrogen oxide, would probably freak out because they don't have enough of a foundation of knowledge to realise that it's the same thing as water. They may also have pre-existing beliefs about conspiracy and feel more inclined to believe it as this 'confirms' some knowledge they already have which is based on faith (that the government is not acting in their best interests).

Ethics isn't really relevant to the discussion as you've framed it, in my opinion. The ethical dilemma is not about how people feel as individuals on this subject (that is not an ethical issue in any respect), but ethics would come in when it comes to determining what to do from a broader perspective. Specifically, is it acceptable to 'make' people vaccinate or otherwise penalise/exclude them? That's an ethical dilemma. However you're not really talking about that that I can see - and to be honest I would probably avoid it and go with your first idea because it allows you to discuss more TOK concepts ie. explicitly address the ways of knowing.

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