WordCount:Title Six: “RobustKnowledge requires both consensus and disagreement” Discuss this claim withreference to two areas of knowledge Robustis the act of being strong and healthy, something that will last the test oftime.
Something being robust is likened to something trustworthy andmeaningful. Something is meaningful because it is proven to be useful aftertrials and tribulations, thus something robust is far more useful thansomething that is not. After all what is the importance of a barely thought ofstatement, or a poorly made tool, what makes something like that meaningful andtrustworthy? Nothing. Nothing because for something to be significant, to actuallybe valid and important, it must be robust. To attain robust knowledge however,is the true challenge. Although there is no absolute certain path that aknowledge claim must go through in order to be considered robust, the title”Robust Knowledge requires both consensus and disagreement” implies someguidelines to do so.
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To explore our title, we must first come to know the terms”robust”, “consensus”, and “disagreement”. To delve into this topic I plan toanalyze how two contrasting areas of knowledge, religion and sciences, bothrequire consensus and disagreement to form robust knowledge in their respectiveareas. In response to the title, I agree that to an extent, both consensus anddisagreement in the areas of religion and the natural sciences form robustknowledge in each.Inreligion, robust knowledge is not found through research, but is insteadnaturally formed upon the consensus of beliefs.
Consensus in religion is thecoming together of similar opinions to support one singular opinion or decreeso as to bolster its influence/following. The reason why this consensus formsrobust religious knowledge is because once an agreement on the idea is formed,it is widespread accepted by many of the following eventually resulting infaith. The people holding this faith do not change their beliefs easily as theyhave taken it in on an emotional and spiritual level, thus the foundations ofthis belief is held strong and healthy by the people who believe it, it becomesrobust knowledge! An example of this is the foundation or the Mormonism branchof Christianity by Joseph Smith. His insight into his new branch ofChristianity emphasized that Mormons reach scripture daily, practice chastitybefore marriage, repent for their sins weekly, as well as obey the law and formen in the faith to be able to marry multiple wives. Joseph Smith spread hisideas by preaching them to his fellow Christians, many of which agreed with hisideology and eventually moved out to the Utah territory in the United States inthe 1840s to found a strong base for their church. This belief formed from oneman gaining the consensus of his peers still remains today. However, whilstconsensus does form robust knowledge in religion, in general the process ofdisagreement does, but to a lesser extent.
Disagreement in religious knowledgeusually does not make the knowledge more robust because it is a battle of ideasand beliefs. Beliefs are essentially an opinion. Two opinions that directlydisagree with each other can still be seen as both being true because differentpeople will take different sides on the belief issue. Thus disagreements may bestated and argued over, and yet make little difference in eitherclaim/viewpoint. A prime example of this issue appears in the frequent debatesbetween other religions attempting to persuade the other to change theirbeliefs and yet both sides only feeling anger in the end due to their devotedpassion in the area of debate.
This can also be seen even today in debates withMuslims believing that Jesus Christ was simply a prophet and not the son ofgod, whilst Christians believe Jesus Christ to be the son of god, throughcenturies of disagreement both opinions remain alive and the same and noprogress has been made by either side to create new, robust knowledge. Howeverit can be argued that there were some cases in which disagreement in religionformed new knowledge. This is seen in the foundation or the Mormonism branch ofChristianity by Joseph Smith. Joseph being born to a family strict in theirdevotion to god, formed extremely conservative beliefs in which he grew up tobelieve. As a young man Joseph frequently had debates and disagreed withChristians in his local church and in his own family. After years of debate Josephgained 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 indebates, he came to the conclusion that Christians should practice chastitybefore marriage, repent for their sins weekly, as well as obey the law and formen in the faith to be able to marry multiple wives. Thus the founding of theMorman church, his own brand of Christianity. Joseph Smith spread his ideas bypreaching them to his fellow Christians, many of which agreed with his ideologyand eventually moved out to the Utah territory in the United States in the1840s to found a strong base for their church. This entire branch ofChristianity formed from one man’s disagreement and debates with his peersuntil finally gaining a consensus on how they should practice their worship ofGod.
Thus when viewing the title “Robust Knowledge requires both consensus anddisagreement” through religion, we can certainly see that robust religiousknowledge is formed through consensus, and while it can be argued thatdisagreement has some aspects of reinforcing beliefs to form religiousknowledge, it is to a lesser degree than the effect of consensus. In the natural sciences, robust knowledge is foundthrough research, testing, as well as peer review. At the heart of the natural sciencesis vetting, and that means heavy disagreements and scrutiny until a scientificinsight is accepted as truth. This makes disagreement in natural science alarge part in how scientific insights become robust knowledge. After all, whenknowledge claims are made by scientists, are these claims immediatelyconsidered fact? No. They are put through the scientific method, techniques foracquiring new knowledge in science which includes developing testablepredictions, meaning others can test out your theory.
This can be seen in thedebate between the theories that speculate on what our universe composed of,such as the string theory and the quantum gravity theory. The fundamental flawbetween the two is that quantum gravity and quantum theory do not fit togetherand do not combine, thus much research and debate has been done into both toform new robust knowledge in the goal in being able to unify the two in a waythat makes scientific sense. These two opposing theories constantly oppose eachother, and the researchers on either side seek both evidence of why theopposing viewpoint is invalid and why theirs is in fact valid. Thisdisagreement between the two sides leads to both gaining more evidence in theirrespective area, thus with more evidence to support their theories, thetheories become robust knowledge. In the natural sciences, consensus is alsorequired to form robust knowledge.
This can be seen in the establishment of thelaws of gravity, the theory of evolution, and the theory on climate change. Thevast majority of scientists agree that these two theories are true thus makingeach theory/law more robust. Another way in which consensus in the naturalsciences helped form robust knowledge is during the 2014 debate over whether ornot vaccines approved by the CDC caused autism in newly born due to possiblemercury content in the vaccines. This caused mass hysteria over vaccines untilmany scientists and researchers came out to form a consensus that vaccines werenot in fact responsible for the appearance of autism in children and agreed thatit was putting children in danger by refusing vaccination. Thus it can be seenthat both consensus and disagreement are required to form robust knowledge inthe natural sciences In our TOK class during our first interaction with thistitle, my classmates and I found this title to odd at first, given thatconsensus and disagreement, two opposite things, were supposedly required toform robust knowledge. After my research I can now more clearly see that whilethe two may be opposite, they do indeed complement each other and are bothvaluable and essential tools in finding robust knowledge in topics such as thenatural sciences and religion.
Both play their parts and both can be seen inevery aspect or robust knowledge in each area. In conclusion, I agree that bothconsensus and disapproval are required in order to form robust knowledge due toboth being necessary to vet out the false and weak knowledge from the solid,strong, robust knowledge.