Tok Essay: That Which Can Be Asserted Without Evidence Can Be Dismissed Without Evidence

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|TOK Essay Title : “That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence” Do you agree ? |

|Word Count: 1240 Words |

Evidence is a thing or things that help in attaining knowledge. The statement “that which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence” means that it is possible to confirm and dismiss the same if there is no evidence or proof to form an undebatable judgement. In this essay I am going to analyse this quote from the prospective of different Areas of Knowledge. I will proceed in this way because they differ from each other not only in the branch of human knowledge that they cover, but also in the Ways of Knowing used to gain the evidence on which each Area of Knowledge is based. My argument will agree with the statement discussed in most Areas of Knowledge, however it will also notice that the statement cannot be applied in particular Areas of Knowledge.

“A wise man,” wrote Hume, “proportions his belief to the evidence.”[1] What the british humanist said with this quote was that what human belief is very closely related to the evidence thay have as men can believe the truth of a statement only if this is based upon evidence. Therefore, if we consider Hume’s point, the quote “that which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence” is not heavily relevant to knowledge as nothing wise men believe and assume should be based without evidence.

The first Area of Knowliedge I will consider is the one of Natural and Human Sciences. These are branches of human knowledge which are based upon the scientific method. Therefore, in Sciences knowledge is asserted (and dismissed) using concrete empirical evidence . Assuming that this is always the case, in theory the quote that I am analysing would therefore not have a real meaning and context and it would be impossible to agree or disagree with it. In the history of scientific discovery however, we can identify some examples of scientific claims that were disserted by furter studies, but often the falseness of the first claim was due to limitations of the scientific method at the time it was first asserted. An example could be the geocentric model in astronomy by the Greek scientist Ptolemy that placed the earth as the orbital centre of all celestial bodies. This theory was believed to be true for 1500 years until in the 16th century the heliocentric theory was presented by Galileo Galilei. This theory replaced the previous theory and was based on the proof that the movement of celestial bodies around the earth was an apparent movement caused by the human parallax error and that places the Sun as the centre of all celestial bodies.

Regarding Natural Sciences, a well-known example of a claim based upon the scientific method is Mendel’s law of indepenndent assortement, that I could analyse in the IB Biology course. This theory states that “two or more pairs of alleles segregate independently of each other as a result of meiosis, provided the genes concerned are not linked by being on the same chromosome[2]” and the scientist could make this claim on the base of an observation followed by thousands of experiments on genetics that allowed him to build an hypothesis that was then tested and approved by humanity to be a scientific theory[3].

This type of reasoning can also be applied with Human Sciences. For example, the discipline of Economics is fundamentally based upon reason and sense perception. These Ways of Knowing were used to obtain a few key definitions that contain reliable truth, such as the concept of scarcity in which we acknowledge that world resources are limited while human wants are unlimited. Although the subject is based on such concepts, it is apparent that when economists search...
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