Word is meaningful because it is proven to be

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Title Six: “Robust
Knowledge requires both consensus and disagreement” Discuss this claim with
reference to two areas of knowledge

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Robust
is the act of being strong and healthy, something that will last the test of
time. Something being robust is likened to something trustworthy and
meaningful. Something is meaningful because it is proven to be useful after
trials and tribulations, thus something robust is far more useful than
something that is not. After all what is the importance of a barely thought of
statement, or a poorly made tool, what makes something like that meaningful and
trustworthy? Nothing. Nothing because for something to be significant, to actually
be valid and important, it must be robust. To attain robust knowledge however,
is the true challenge. Although there is no absolute certain path that a
knowledge claim must go through in order to be considered robust, the title
“Robust Knowledge requires both consensus and disagreement” implies some
guidelines to do so. To explore our title, we must first come to know the terms
“robust”, “consensus”, and “disagreement”. To delve into this topic I plan to
analyze how two contrasting areas of knowledge, religion and sciences, both
require consensus and disagreement to form robust knowledge in their respective
areas. In response to the title, I agree that to an extent, both consensus and
disagreement in the areas of religion and the natural sciences form robust
knowledge in each.

In
religion, robust knowledge is not found through research, but is instead
naturally formed upon the consensus of beliefs. Consensus in religion is the
coming together of similar opinions to support one singular opinion or decree
so as to bolster its influence/following. The reason why this consensus forms
robust religious knowledge is because once an agreement on the idea is formed,
it is widespread accepted by many of the following eventually resulting in
faith. The people holding this faith do not change their beliefs easily as they
have taken it in on an emotional and spiritual level, thus the foundations of
this belief is held strong and healthy by the people who believe it, it becomes
robust knowledge! An example of this is the foundation or the Mormonism branch
of Christianity by Joseph Smith. His insight into his new branch of
Christianity emphasized that Mormons reach scripture daily, practice chastity
before marriage, repent for their sins weekly, as well as obey the law and for
men in the faith to be able to marry multiple wives. Joseph Smith spread his
ideas by preaching them to his fellow Christians, many of which agreed with his
ideology and eventually moved out to the Utah territory in the United States in
the 1840s to found a strong base for their church. This belief formed from one
man gaining the consensus of his peers still remains today.  However, whilst
consensus does form robust knowledge in religion, in general the process of
disagreement does, but to a lesser extent. Disagreement in religious knowledge
usually does not make the knowledge more robust because it is a battle of ideas
and beliefs. Beliefs are essentially an opinion. Two opinions that directly
disagree with each other can still be seen as both being true because different
people will take different sides on the belief issue. Thus disagreements may be
stated and argued over, and yet make little difference in either
claim/viewpoint. A prime example of this issue appears in the frequent debates
between other religions attempting to persuade the other to change their
beliefs and yet both sides only feeling anger in the end due to their devoted
passion in the area of debate. This can also be seen even today in debates with
Muslims believing that Jesus Christ was simply a prophet and not the son of
god, whilst Christians believe Jesus Christ to be the son of god, through
centuries of disagreement both opinions remain alive and the same and no
progress has been made by either side to create new, robust knowledge. However
it can be argued that there were some cases in which disagreement in religion
formed new knowledge. This is seen in the foundation or the Mormonism branch of
Christianity by Joseph Smith. Joseph being born to a family strict in their
devotion to god, formed extremely conservative beliefs in which he grew up to
believe. As a young man Joseph frequently had debates and disagreed with
Christians in his local church and in his own family. After years of debate Joseph
gained insight into how he felt himself and others should live and worship god.
After swaying the beliefs of his family members and fellow church goers in
debates, he came to the conclusion that Christians should practice chastity
before marriage, repent for their sins weekly, as well as obey the law and for
men in the faith to be able to marry multiple wives. Thus the founding of the
Morman church, his own brand of Christianity. Joseph Smith spread his ideas by
preaching them to his fellow Christians, many of which agreed with his ideology
and eventually moved out to the Utah territory in the United States in the
1840s to found a strong base for their church. This entire branch of
Christianity formed from one man’s disagreement and debates with his peers
until finally gaining a consensus on how they should practice their worship of
God. Thus when viewing the title “Robust Knowledge requires both consensus and
disagreement” through religion, we can certainly see that robust religious
knowledge is formed through consensus, and while it can be argued that
disagreement has some aspects of reinforcing beliefs to form religious
knowledge, it is to a lesser degree than the effect of consensus.

 

            In the natural sciences, robust knowledge is found
through research, testing, as well as peer review. At the heart of the natural sciences
is vetting, and that means heavy disagreements and scrutiny until a scientific
insight is accepted as truth. This makes disagreement in natural science a
large part in how scientific insights become robust knowledge. After all, when
knowledge claims are made by scientists, are these claims immediately
considered fact? No. They are put through the scientific method, techniques for
acquiring new knowledge in science which includes developing testable
predictions, meaning others can test out your theory. This can be seen in the
debate between the theories that speculate on what our universe composed of,
such as the string theory and the quantum gravity theory. The fundamental flaw
between the two is that quantum gravity and quantum theory do not fit together
and do not combine, thus much research and debate has been done into both to
form new robust knowledge in the goal in being able to unify the two in a way
that makes scientific sense. These two opposing theories constantly oppose each
other, and the researchers on either side seek both evidence of why the
opposing viewpoint is invalid and why theirs is in fact valid. This
disagreement between the two sides leads to both gaining more evidence in their
respective area, thus with more evidence to support their theories, the
theories become robust knowledge. In the natural sciences, consensus is also
required to form robust knowledge. This can be seen in the establishment of the
laws of gravity, the theory of evolution, and the theory on climate change. The
vast majority of scientists agree that these two theories are true thus making
each theory/law more robust. Another way in which consensus in the natural
sciences helped form robust knowledge is during the 2014 debate over whether or
not vaccines approved by the CDC caused autism in newly born due to possible
mercury content in the vaccines. This caused mass hysteria over vaccines until
many scientists and researchers came out to form a consensus that vaccines were
not in fact responsible for the appearance of autism in children and agreed that
it was putting children in danger by refusing vaccination. Thus it can be seen
that both consensus and disagreement are required to form robust knowledge in
the natural sciences

 

            In our TOK class during our first interaction with this
title, my classmates and I found this title to odd at first, given that
consensus and disagreement, two opposite things, were supposedly required to
form robust knowledge. After my research I can now more clearly see that while
the two may be opposite, they do indeed complement each other and are both
valuable and essential tools in finding robust knowledge in topics such as the
natural sciences and religion. Both play their parts and both can be seen in
every aspect or robust knowledge in each area. In conclusion, I agree that both
consensus and disapproval are required in order to form robust knowledge due to
both being necessary to vet out the false and weak knowledge from the solid,
strong, robust knowledge.