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代写essay:TOK Essay满分范文

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TOK Eassy满分范文:

In Knowledge, there is always a trade-off between accuracy and simplicity’. Evaluate this
statement with respect to two Areas of Knowledge’

Elementary’1, Holmes exclaims. By this phrase, Conan Doyle suggests our protagonist
finds simplicity in his accurate logical inferences. Conversely, as an IB learner, as I increase
the accuracy of my knowledge of the world around me, I often find this new knowledge
more challenging than what has gone before. It is this compromise to which I believe this
question refers. Simplicity is a lack of complexity of knowledge, whether through an ease of
understanding or lack of assumptions implicit within explanations. Accuracy is a measure of
correctness of knowledge relative to what is actually true. I agree there is often a ‘trade-off’
between the characteristics, where it is only possible to gain an increase in one factor by
compromising on the other. However, the extent to which this trade-off exists, and its
outcomes in knowledge acquisition, may differ in the Human and Natural Sciences.


In the Natural Sciences, forming theories via inductive reasoning is a process where we
simplify the complex nuances of the real-world to align with our limited human experience.
Hence simplicity may limit the accuracy of scientific conclusions. When investigating the
reactivity of tertiary haloalkanes for my Chemistry II, I noticed in my observations that
increasing the ethanol concentration increaseed their hydrolysis rate. Applying inductive
reasoning, I was certain that haloalkanes always reacted faster at higher solvent
concentrations. I was reluctant to continue experimenting as it seemed self-evident this
trend would always continue to hold true. Only after repeating my experiment in a non-polar
solvent did I realise the true relationship was far more nuanced than I had previously
imagined, as the opposite trend was now observed. This example shows a clear problem in
1 Goodreads.com, "Quotes About Sherlock Holmes (261 Quotes)", 2016
<http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/sherlock-holmes> [accessed 25 January 2016].
induction: whilst I could be sure that that all the substances I had observed showed a trend,
I could not be sure that this was always the case. By generalising without all future
knowledge about potential exceptions that may arise, when forming inductive theories we
sacrifice total accuracy for simplicity. However, as long as we are prepared to further refine
our theories when new evidence arises, we should not abandon them altogether. In my
opinion, scientific theories can still have great value when helping us to make predictions in
the majority of cases.

However, a counter-claim is simplicity aids reasoning when gaging accuracy of scientific
explanations. The simplicity principle states the simplest theory providing an equally
acceptable explanation of experimental trends is ‘preferred’2. This was applied in
Phlogiston’s refutation. Many once believed combusting substances gave off Phlogiston. 3.
As metals gain mass in combustion, if they simultaneously lost Phlogiston, the latter would
require a negative mass. By the simplicity principle, it was concluded Lavoisier’s oxygen
theory, which did not resort to this ludicrous assumption, whilst explaining the same
experimental evidence, was more accurate. I think simplicity is desirable as scientists rely
on empiricism; they verify their hypotheses through active experimentation. Simpler
theories are likely to exist more within the bounds of experimental data. In contrast, as we
move to more complex theories we are forced to make claims that are not fully falsifiable.
We can test for oxygen but it would impossible to confirm Phlogiston’s negative mass to
prove its existence. The greater falsifiability offered by simpler scientific theories means we
can be more certain of their accuracy.
2 Encyclopedia Britannica, "Occam's Razor | Philosophy", 2015 <http://www.britannica.com/topic/Occams-razor>
[accessed 22 February 2016]
3 Alan Baker, "Simplicity", Plato.stanford.edu, 2004 <http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/simplicity/> [accessed 25
January 2016].

Moreover, when relaying shared knowledge to personal knowledge, language must be
simplified to facilitate accurate understanding in Natural Sciences. In GCSE Biology, our
sole teaching of respiration was the ‘oxidation of glucose to form cellular energy4. When
moving to IB I became aware that this process was far more complex than I had previously
learned, incorporating multiple intermediate stages. On learning this new information, I felt
uncertain. It made little sense why my prior knowledge, having come from an authoritative
source in my Biology teacher, seemed to contradict with these new teachings. Gaining a
more accurate understanding of respiration at this higher level of complexity necessitated
unlearning much prior knowledge, which was time-consuming. Hence, initially I felt
simplicity had hindered accuracy of my personal understanding. However, I now believe
this simpler explanation was important in providing a more readily comprehensible
description of the basic principles of a process which would otherwise remained mired in
unintelligibility. In turn, this simplification better prepared me to grasp the more accurate
and complex explanations of respiration at a later stage. I think simplifying language is
particularly vital in the Natural Sciences, where processes often require a great deal of prior
terminology to understand. However, this simplified teaching must eventually yield to further
complexities. Otherwise we might mistakenly believe in an overly simplistic view of the
world and be left with minimal depth of understanding.
Whereas Natural Sciences seeks accuracy in understanding natural phenomena, the
human scientist seeks to most closely understand human behaviour. Human Sciences’
models compromise on total accuracy through the use of assumptions. One example is
rationality: that economic actors will work to maximise their private utility5. This assumption
allows us to construct the simple Law of Demand: as price rises, demand of rational
4 Bbc.co.uk, "BBC - GCSE Bitesize: What Is Aerobic Respiration?", 2016
<http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/science/add_aqa/respiration/respirationrev1.shtml> [accessed 25
January 2016].
5 Tragakes, Ellie, Economics For The IB Diploma (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009)
consumers, who only consume if their utility exceeds the price, will fall6. The assumption
simplifies and unifies human behaviour. Conversely, if we had to consider how each
individual consumer would react to a change it would be almost impossible to predict their
future actions. Due to human variability, simplification through the use of assumptions is
critical so predictions can be made.

Conversely, in ‘The Theory of the Leisure Class’7, the economist Thorsten Veblen
somewhat refutes human rationality. He highlights that goods like luxury cars are
‘conspicuously consumed’8. They are a way for wealthy consumers to show off their
economic power; hence their demand actually increases at higher prices. Whilst to an
extent I agree simplifying human behaviour is necessary to enable prediction, we must be
careful not to reduce human beings to the status of robotic, totally rational beings. As
Veblen’s work shows, we can often be irrational and motivated by factors separated from
reason like our social environment. Rejecting these factors by assuming rationality limits the
accuracy of social scientific predictions by undermining the irrationality that makes us
human.

According to the Verstehen position, the Human Sciences aims to understand social
actions as understood by ‘‘agents’9’ themselves. To gain an accurate understanding of
human actions, we must trade simplistic statements of mechanical cause-and-effect and
instead use emotion to empathise with the complexities of human motivations. Otherwise
6 Tragakes, Ellie, Economics For The IB Diploma (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009)
7 Andrew B. Trigg, "Veblen, Bourdieu, And Conspicuous Consumption", Journal of Economic Issues, 35 (2001), 99-115
<http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00213624.2001.11506342>.
8 Andrew B. Trigg, "Veblen, Bourdieu, And Conspicuous Consumption", Journal of Economic Issues, 35 (2001), 99-115
<http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00213624.2001.11506342>.
9 : Lagemaat, Richard van de, Theory Of Knowledge For The IB Diploma (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
2005)
we might misunderstand what is truly going on. The sociologist Erving Goffman applied this
position in ‘Asylums’10. Goffman studied mental institutions by immersing himself in the
patients’ lives. He observed that when isolated in this state, patients would horde
‘everyday’11 items. Outwardly this behaviour might seem evidence of psychosis. However
Goffman, applying the Verstehen approach, instead suggested that the patients’ behaviour
was ‘eminently rational’12: they had been denied storage space and this was the only way to
maintain some individual autonomy. This example shows that the sentient nature of
humans means that simple empirical judgements of humans may be inaccurate. To gain a
truly accurate understanding of human behaviour easy conclusions must be continually
called into question, and we must empathise with humans to understand their complex
motivations.

Conversely, emotional attachment in the Human Sciences can hinder accuracy of
knowledge and limit objectivity. In ‘In Cold Blood’, the author Truman Capote aimed to
delve into the psychological mind-set of the Clutter murderers. Whilst researching, Capote
befriended the killer Perry Smith’; this close relationship may have undermined Capote’s
credibility. For instance, in spite of the severity of Smith’s crimes, Capote still selectively
focuses on his artistic side (describing his ‘beautiful penmanship’13), to paint him as a
troubled figure, undeserving of harsh punishment. Whilst emotion is undoubtedly important
in connecting us with our human subjects, this example highlights how it is sometimes
10 Goffman, Erving, Asylums (Garden City, N.Y.: Anchor Books, 1961)
11 Goffman, Erving, Asylums (Garden City, N.Y.: Anchor Books, 1961)
12Gill, John, and Phil Johnson, Research Methods For Managers (London: Sage Publications, 2002)
13 Truman Capote, In Cold Blood (New York: Random House, 1966).
difficult to know whether empathy has truly led to a more accurate understanding. Emotion
must always be tempered with factual evidence. In my opinion, Capote’s selective
insistence of Smith’s sensitive side and his glossing over of his heinous crimes illustrates
that here emotion has prevented an accurate and truly objective understanding of the whole
situation being formed. Capote has attained not accuracy but instead a distortion of true
reality.

Overall, I believe this statement has some truth in both areas of knowledge. Induction in the
Natural Sciences involves a compromise of total accuracy for simplicity, which can be
problematic as exceptions may arise in conflict with inductive conclusions. However as the
example on simplified teaching shows simplicity can be beneficial in relaying complex
scientific ideas. Similarly simplicity has been shown to aid reasoning when choosing
between conflicting scientific explanations; here simplicity aids rather than limits accuracy.
In Human Sciences, assumptions in modelling illustrate an example where we must trade
total accuracy for simplicity. Although I agree this trade-off is necessary to allow for
prediction we should take care not to ignore human irrationality. Although the sociologist
Erving Goffman used emotion to empathise with his subjects’ complex motivations, I
believe emotion must always be tempered by factual evidence. Otherwise we might
generate inaccurate and subjective knowledge. Altogether, I would disagree that simplicity
completely conflicts with accuracy but instead I believe the two can often co-exist. In my
opinion simplicity is like zooming out of a detailed map: it enables us to see the rough
boundaries of knowledge more clearly, reduces confusion, and provides an overview of
what there is to know. As long as we can recognize its limitations and are determined to
strive for more accurate knowledge when necessary, I believe simplicity can aid accuracy of
knowledge.

Word Count: 1600

Bibliography

1. Goodreads.com, "Quotes About Sherlock Holmes (261 Quotes)", 2016

<http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/sherlock-holmes> [accessed 25 January 2016].
2. Encyclopedia Britannica, "Occam's Razor | Philosophy", 2015
<http://www.britannica.com/topic/Occams-razor> [accessed 22 February 2016]
3. Alan Baker, "Simplicity", Plato.stanford.edu, 2004 <http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/simplicity/>
[accessed 25 January 2016].
4. Bbc.co.uk, "BBC - GCSE Bitesize: What Is Aerobic Respiration?", 2016
<http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/science/add_aqa/respiration/respirationrev1.shtml>
[accessed 25 January 2016].
5. Lagemaat, Richard van de, Theory Of Knowledge For The IB Diploma (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 2005)
6. Goffman, Erving, Asylums (Garden City, N.Y.: Anchor Books, 1961)
7. Gill, John, and Phil Johnson, Research Methods For Managers (London: Sage Publications, 2002)
8. Truman Capote, In Cold Blood (New York: Random House, 1966).
9. Patrick Keefe, "Truman Capote’s Co-Conspirators", The New Yorker, 2013
<http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/capotes-co-conspirators> [accessed 27 February
2016].
10. 1 Tragakes, Ellie, Economics For The IB Diploma (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009)
11. 1 Andrew B. Trigg, "Veblen, Bourdieu, And Conspicuous Consumption", Journal of Economic Issues,
35 (2001), 99-115 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00213624.2001.11506342>.

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