For knowledge presents itself to be conflicting for

For those who
agree or disagree it is the exchange of ideas that broadens all of our
knowledge~ Richard Eastman1

The quote above
indicates that the knowledge that is agreed or disagreed upon helps in creating
a stronger knowledge for everyone. When the quote is given a glance, it can
be inferred how agreeing or disagreeing can affect the shared knowledge,
but when the quote is deeply analysed it can be understood that when
agreement or disagreement takes place the knowledge that has consensus or
disagreement turns itself to be more valuable or robust for everyone, helping
in expanding the knowledge that we have. We are taught many different things through our educational
years; the learning never stops. The knowledge that we gain; we accept it
because it is written by experts, but is the knowledge that we get always
robust knowledge? Is the knowledge always agreed upon or people can
disagree on it to make it robust? To
what extent consensus and disagreement help in creating robust knowledge?

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The question
can be explored by first understanding the key terms. Robust knowledge, to me, means the knowledge that we gain through
sturdy constructed2
and logical reasons. The term consensus
can be explained as when the experts in their respective field agrees on the
knowledge that has been raised. Disagreement
in simple terms occurs when the knowledge presents itself to be conflicting for
some experts, leading to be questioned. Experts are people who possess specialised
skills and knowledge in their particular field. All of our Theory of Knowledge classes have accepted the
claims and the counter claims that a student makes over a particular issue or
topic, this helps in identifying the various perspectives on the issue or
topic. These consensus and disagreements have helped in understanding the issue
or the topic better. However, when some particular Areas of Knowledge are
considered different perspective seems to surface. The knowledge is not
always having consensus or disagreement both. Human Sciences and Natural Sciences
present the possibility of knowledge being independent of consensus or
disagreement.

In human sciences, when the economists
talk about the terms: economic growth and economic development they tend to be
in consensus that the two terms are in fact distinguishable. and when talking
about their distinction and that they are important for a country and policies
should be implemented to make them effective. Economic growth is when the
output of a country increases overtime whereas Economic development is when the
living standards of a country rises. The consensus in this example comes
through the reason provided by the
experts. The disagreement however, arises when the implementation of these
policies has to be taken into consideration, economists argue that should the
implementation of growth be the priority? Does economic growth will always lead
to economic development? These disagreements result in a more diverse and
robust knowledge. Economists also believed that economic growth always lead to
economic development. But, through the course of time and extensive questioning
and observation, this belief was countered by other economists. During late
1960s and early 1970s, it was observed that few countries (especially some oil-rich countries) were experiencing economic
growth but not economic development. Through observing this pattern, economists
started questioning and disagreeing with the previous believes. Now, the
opposite of the above belief is considered to be true, that economic growth
need not necessarily lead to economic development. A
country experiencing economic growth may not undergo economic development.
Through the course of time, the definition of economic development came to be
interpreted differently and a different perspective was adopted to look at the
overall standard of living in an economy from a broader and more precise angle. Earlier, economic development was believed to be dependant
only on economic growth. But through disagreement and proposals of new
theories, economic development is now based on many new factors and aspects.
This shows how through disagreement of one economic belief, more robust and
in-depth knowledge of that area in economics was acquired by experts.

Sigmund Freud
and Carl Jung, the two renowned experts in the field of psychology. One of the varying
views they had was on the people’s dream. They had different theories about the
data perceived by our senses processed in our mind. There are two parts of our
mind, the unconscious and the conscious, Freud believed that from the
unconscious mind people can be know better and believed that we do not act
according to our desires because of the conscious mind. When a person dreams
the unconscious mind takes over and we dream about the desires that we have,
Freud just looked at these desires through sexual way meaning the desires are
only sexual and nothing else this is where Jung disagreed he believed that
desires are not just sexual and the dreams can have different meanings too.
Jung believed that the dreams can help to anticipate the future whereas Freud
believed that dreams only show past or the sexual desires. Dreams can be used
to find out the solutions of the problems what a person has, was Jung’s stance
but Freud thought that dreams just makes the person sleep more. These two
experts may have disagreed upon the dreams of a person but in today’s world
both of their views are respected and used in the field of psychology, they may
have disagreed by presenting contradicting views but ultimately this resulted
in the creation of a more robust knowledge giving the people to understand both
aspects of their dreams.

 

Additionally,
in Natural Sciences the experts can have different thoughts about how the world
works and what elements are present
in the world also the experts devise many theories which helps us understand
more about the world. The atomic theory which was first introduced by
John Dalton in the year 1803 with an oral presentation and a publication in
1805, many experts had given theories which Dalton used in his model to give
substantive evidence, the experts before Dalton did not find out about atom but
still helped Dalton to build upon them and through experimentation was able to
prove the smallest particle ‘atoms’ existence. The experts agreed on Dalton’s
atomic structure until it was falsified by J.J. Thompson and Ernest Rutherford
when they found out about the electron having a negative charge which was a
part inside the atom thus, making it the smallest particle. J.J. Thompson also
created the plum pudding model which was in hope to create an electrically
neutral atom but Thompson’s student Rutherford falsified the plum pudding model
in 1911 by finding out that an atom contains a positive charge and most of the
atoms mass is in the centre/nucleus. By Rutherford identifying the proton and
neutron it was Henry Moseley who changed the way the periodic table was
arranged by seeing the x-ray emissions of the elements, the periodic table was
then arranged according to the atomic number instead of the atomic mass, which
is the periodic table we currently use. In natural sciences the theory or law
is in consensus by the experts until and unless someone falsifies it, once it
is falsified the disagreements starts to happen which causes the new theory or
law to be developed and accepted. These falsifications take place when the
experimentation gives a different result from the last time, the observations
that are made can be have errors because the observation is based on human
sense perception and our senses cannot always be reliable. This all signifies
the historical development of the theories and laws with the increasing
advancement of technology.

The latest and
the widely accepted atomic model is the Bohr’s Model created by Niels Bohr who
improved the Rutherford’s model by explaining the emission and the absorption
spectra and also why the electrons do not crash into the nucleus. Now this
model replaced the previous model by advancements in it and by more detailed
explanation and analysis of the structure. The experts are in consensus about
this model and is used by the experts till now. The first model was created in
1803 which lacked many explanations that we now know about, the continuous
progress of the model has historically developed a lot and can further be
developed with the new thinking and by disagreements of the experts or
consensus of the experts on the atomic model. It may happen that someone may
improve the Bohr’s model resulting in a newer model which can be in consensus
by the experts. Natural Sciences tend to be in consensus until and unless
someone falsifies the theory or law however, the disagreements exist with the
course of time as the experts understand more about the theory or law and can
question on its very proof.

Concludingly, the
creation of robust knowledge does not always depend on the consensus or
disagreements that the experts have on a claim raised, but the creation of
robust knowledge can also be dependent on the course of time. The claim or
findings put up by an expert can be accepted by the other experts for a
particular time, it may happen that the claim or findings had a limitation
which was solved with the course of time. As mentioned about human sciences,
people used to believe that economic growth always leads to economic
development but as the time passed people realised that economic development
does depend on various other factors. Just as is the case of natural sciences,
until and unless a theory is falsified it is accepted by the experts but with
the advancements in technology and better observations the findings can give
different and improved results leading to a new or more improved theory to be
accepted. The claims and counterclaims put up from both the areas of knowledge
reflect that sometimes the knowledge does not exist without consensus or
disagreement whereas sometimes the knowledge can exist with only consensus or
disagreement.

1 http://foodforthought.barthel.eu/quotes/
(10th November)

2 http://dictionary.reverso.net/english-definition/robust%20knowledge

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