Title 5 – TOK Essay May 2017 KQ 6 : How do ‘Emotion’ and ‘Reason’ affect the disagreements between experts within a discipline?


When disagreements of the nature like the proper use of statistics , or about the fundamental assumptions or concepts occur , there are rational ways , by the means of arguments and evidence ,to deal and reconcile with , in a particular discipline.

“For example, in the early 20th century, the advent of quantum mechanics utterly transformed physics. Before 1900, most physicists subscribed to the Newtonian idea that all physical systems operate according to deterministic laws in which outcomes can predicted with certainty if one knows enough about the initial conditions. Quantum physicists, such as Neils Bohr, Max Planck, and Werner Heisenberg, rejected this idea, based on their interpretation of experiments designed to test whether electromagnetic radiation acts as a particle or a wave. They proposed that physical systems at the atomic scale operate according to probabilistic laws, and that outcomes cannot be predicted with certainty. Albert Einstein abhorred the idea of quantum indeterminacy, and he spent many years trying to prove that this phenomenon is an artifact of experiments and their interpretations, and that the world is fundamentally deterministic.”

On the contrary , is it not possible to see the same things and interpret and process in multiple ways? Even a knower undergoes a change in beliefs, thoughts , existing prior knowledge , level of understanding , nature of emotion and reason. Besides the multiple perspectives , disagreements and conflicting knowledge claims are not immune from the presence of multiple biases, uncertainty and eternal infallibility.

Disagreements can be resolved by producing new facts, concepts, and theories and ideas, but can never be resolved from emotionally and financially charged positions.

Taking example of the ‘ Climate Change ‘ controvery and the associated disagreements : “ First, the standard official concept of global warming increasingly seems to be invalid.  It’s predictions about rising temperatures, melting of polar icecaps, and alarming changes in weather patterns do not match reality.   Second, the complexity of this controversy is enormous.  In addition to science, it involves finances, politics, industries, and governments.  Arguments involve much more than scientific facts and figures; egos, emotions, careers, repression of questions, and, predictions of alarming disasters are prominent.  Third, the use of “global” in the questions being addressed is questionable because there are very many quite different regions and different human activities involved; many so-called global datapoints actually are averages or extrapolations.  How exactly can the temperature in Nepal be meaningfully averaged with that of Greenland, New York City, Tunis, and Tahiti?  Similarly, how can the different human activities within these 5 parts of our planet be averaged in a meaningful way?  Fourth, this long dispute has been made more difficult for science to resolve by the uncovering of data manipulations and repressions of dissent .”