Lesson 23: ToK Essay (practice) Plan


1.Ethical judgments limit the methods available in the production of knowledge in both the arts and the natural sciences. Discuss.


Introduction: (200 words)

  • Which WoK, AoK?
  • Interpret Q
  • Summary to how essay will be structured – real life situations etc
  • What I plan to find out at the end of essay


First paragraph (300 words)

  • Support with a real life situation such as the Tuskegee syphilis experiment (Unethical testing on a selective race)
  • This prevents us from gaining information as we are not allowed to test on humans and on specific races, therefore limiting production of knowledge in area of natural sciences


  • Because testing on humans have been viewed as unethical, people are being innovative and coming up with other testing strategies such as testing on mice and plants to achieve knowledge


Second paragraph (300 words)

  • Support with another real life situation such as the perception of tattoos, and what may seem as to a work of art to some may be seen as an unethical to others
  • These perception and labels as unethical due to individual and community judgment limits the production of knowledge in area of arts


  • Show a different pov where art is ethical in production of knowledge. For example, through the photo of the “Napalm Girl” – initially viewed as unethical due to nudity, however ultimately helped to change the US public opinion against war due to cruel acts being committed in Vietnam
  • Art involves emotion, and is of an individual expression, and people are entitled to hold their own opinion
  • Explain how this is similar to “beauty is in the eye’s of the beholder”


Third paragraph (300 words)

  • Real life situation regarding stem cell research (genetic engineering) and how this use alterations in the natural human genetic make up is viewed as unethical
  • Bring in religious pov, such as how this is an act of playing God


  • Explain how even though this act may seem unethical initially, the benefits of the success of stem cell research is much more
  • Explain how it will save a lot more lives (to look at the bigger picture) and that people who are being experimented on are already due to death due to disease and such.


Conclusion (200 words)

  • Explain what I think
  • Link with other WoK, AoK, and explain how they interrelate
  • Relate to a bigger picture, and how ethical judgments in everyday life limit production of knowledge in other AoK other than arts and natural sciences.



Resources used:




Lesson 21 & 22: Music


Functions of music: (Why do people listen to or play music?)

  • Entertainment
  • Thrill/Excitement
  • Means of distraction
  • Motivation (e.g. running)
  • Binds a community together
  • Allows to express emotions/feelings
  • Allows others to feel intimate with each other through music/ sense of connection
  • Uplifts the mind


Definition of music:

the art or science of combining vocal or instrumental sounds (or both) to produce beauty of form, harmony, and expression of emotion he devoted his life to music.• the vocal or instrumental sound produced in this way couples were dancing to the music baroque music.• a sound perceived as pleasingly harmonious the background music of softly lapping water.


Sometimes, people listen to music that is adjusted to their mood or feeling so that they can associate with those emotions even more. For example, if someone is upset they could listen to a slow, sad song which makes them feel even more sad. Or, that same person could listen to an uplifting, upbeat song instead to change their mood and to redirect their emotion. Music has a powerful effect and influence on individuals, it allows to provoke emotions and bring back old memories (nostalgia). Not only this, but music can act as a form of entertainment, as listed in the functions of music, as well as a motivation factor. This is shown when many runners choose to run while listening to music. Music allows them to persevere and run a further distance, most likely because it acts a form of distraction.

I believe music can be appreciated, composed or performed by someone who is deaf. This belief can be supported using the musical artist Beethoven as an example. Beethoven is a very talented and a well known music composer. During his twenties, his hearing started to deteriorate and had completely lost his hearing during his mid-thirties. However, despite this, Beethoven was still able to compose impressive musical pieces. He composed his Ninth Symphony mostly in his head as he was at a stage where he was almost completely deaf. This example shows that music can be appreciated, composed and performed by anyone. Not only people who can hear. In fact, music can be  appreciated, composed and performed by birds, insects and other living beings. I say this because


Do listeners of the same music interpret it the same way? Do they make the same associations, have the same feelings.

– funerals, weddings, general yes

– complicated, heart broken, happy may be different

-forms of communication, birds

Can music be spoken and understood as a common language?

link to previous point about communication

Music from different cultures

Factors affecting individuals music perception:

  • Growing up environment
  • Friends/Family
  • Culture and background
  • Education
  • Attitude and belief towards life
  • Attitude and belief towards music
  • Personal experience


How is music related with ToK?




Lesson 19 & 20: Debate lesson

In this lesson we had to split into groups of 4, where two people were debating ‘for’ a certain topic while the other two would argue ‘against’ it. For our topic, we discussed the issues around making an International Law that would ban all whaling activities.




Our argument consists of reasons such that not all whaling should be banned, but people should try to reduce the number of whales being hunted or killed, in other words, sustainable whaling. Limiting the number of whales is different from banning all hunting activities. Limiting prevents endangering species and extinction of whales.

In addition to sustainable whaling, the people should  use every part of the whale instead of taking only what they need because this would just create wastage.

The majority of the population do not care if cows or pigs are killed for their meat, and that happens every day, therefore despite being endangered, the extent of banning all whaling seems extreme as killing pigs for their meat is the same as killing whales for their meat too.

To further discuss this topic, right now the food chain is not being affected because whales are towards the end of the food chain as they eat smaller fish, however if all whaling is banned, the population of whales will increase, and could lead to overpopulation, which could potentially affect the food chain causing endangering and extinction to possible smaller fish species. Population kept at a stable number by natural predators (humans included) continuing to do what they’ve done for centuries.

Lesson 18: Ethical Philosophy


Key Terms for Ethics:

  • Ethics: standards of behaviour the society wants to set; system of principles of what’s right & wrong, coming from moral values/ internal senses
  • Ethical egoism: we should behave in a way that promotes our personal happiness, in the long run.
  • Altruism: we should sacrifice our personal interests for those of others
  • Utilitarianism: maximizing the overall benefit for everyone involved OR the proper course of action is one which maximises the overall “happiness”
  • Moral duty: we do something because we know we should do it/ regardless of the benefit to self
  • mens rea: guilty mind
  • actus rea: guilty actions
  • Kant’s Categorical Imperative: “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law.”


  • Consequentialism / Ultilitarianism
  • Situational Ethics
  • Duty Ethics / Emmanual Kant and the Categorical Imperative
  • Deontology
  • What according to utilitarianism makes an action morally right?
  • What is the difference between utilitarianism and hedonism?
  • What arguments can be used to defend utilitarianism?
  • Why does utilitarianism sometimes recommend actions that go against conventional morality?
  • How do we know what is morally correct?
  • Is knowledge of morals like or unlike other areas of knowledge?

More useful links:

Consequentialist vs. non-consequentialist theories of ethics

Categoricalism vs Consequentialism pdf

Useful ToK terms

Lesson 15 & 17: Ethics

Friday 24th January 2014


  • How can we prove or verify what is good action in complex situations;
  • To what extent are knowledge claims in ethics open to bias and other limitations;
  • What are the strengths and limitations of emotion and reason when deciding on courses of action.


What is the moral relativism?

  • is the idea that moral principles have no objective standard
  • is the individual moral practice where personal and situational encounters supposedly dictate the correct moral position. This may differ from one’s view of what is morally correct to another’s view despite looking at the same thing/being in the same scenario
  • Relativism can be described with the slogan= “Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder”


How to judge what is right and wrong? Do we judge…

  • By what is stated in the Law?
  • By what we’ve been taught by our parents/teachers/role models?
  • By what we’ve experienced?
  • By what we’ve seen first hand?

How do we act on what we think is right or wrong? What drives us to act: the motives VS the consequences

Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison experiment

More useful links:

School ToK blog – Ethics

Ethics tok.net

Lesson 16: Cognitive bias

What is bias?

Bias is the inclination or prejudice for or against one person or group, especially in a way considered to be unfair. Cognitive bias is when one makes a bias through the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses.

Types of cognitive biases to discuss in ToK:

Introspection illusion, prejudice, confirmation bias, in attentional blindness, hindsight bias, availability bias, affect heuristic, the halo effect, sunk cost fallacy, the just world fallacy and attribution bias.

Today, I will be discussing about Attribution bias:

Attribution is the inferences that people make about the causes of events or behaviours. Attribution bias is when people have a tendency to assume or guess that a person’s actions or their results depend on what ‘kind’ of person that person is rather than on the social and environmental forces influencing the person.

Over the course of a typical day a person probably makes numerous attributions about their own behavior as well as that of the people around them. This act may be either a conscious or unconscious act. Even though one may be conscious of making attributions about themselves or others, they are still most likely to continue doing so.

Example of attribution bias:

The most typical example of attribution bias is when you get a poor grade on a quiz, you might blame the teacher for not adequately explaining the material, completely dismissing the fact that you didn’t study as much as you should or could have. However, when a classmate gets a great grade on that same quiz, you might attribute their good performance to luck, neglecting the fact that they most likely studied a lot for that test.

Pros on attribution bias:

  • Raises self esteem

Cons on attribution bias:

  • Self- serving



The psychology of attribution 

Lesson 14: Emotion

Screen Shot 2014-01-26 at 11.06.12 am

Tuesday 14th January 2014

The images above^ shows a variety of emotions we feel in our everyday lives. The primary emotions consists of happiness, anger, sadness, fear, suprise and disgust. Emotion is described as a strong feeling deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others or instinctive or intuitive feeling as distinguished from reasoning or knowledge. We have and feel emotions because

I believe it is hard to judge where emotions come from because emotion is not a tangible object that is measurable. Emotion is very much like human sciences and it is difficult to measure accurately and precisely due to the fact that people think because everyone feels differently about different things, everyone is entitled to their own opinions and everyone’s brains processes information differently. Emotion is more of an intangible realm like dreams and imagination. Sometimes, when we explain emotion, we relate different emotions to different parts of the body. For example, we say love comes from the heart, anger from the spleen, fear is something we feel in our spine, and recognizing that something is right is described as a ‘gut feeling’. However, others believe differently. Others like some psychologists or physicians would argue that it is not the body but the mind that feels these emotions by releasing different levels of chemicals to the brain called neurotransmitters in response to certain conditions the person is experiencing. For example, more serotonin is produced when a person is in love. The brain registers this increase in level, and as a results we feel happy.

Social emotions is another classification of the ranges of emotions, like primary emotions, however they consist of the following:

  • Ambition
  • Contempt
  • Embarrassment
  • Envy
  • Gratitude
  • Guilt
  • Indignation
  • Jealousy
  • Pride
  • Shame
  • Sympathy

These emotions are triggered by the social interactions made by an individual, and interferes with how we view the world because emotions created by an individual can differ from another individual at that exact moment. For example, person A, B and C could be in the same social group or at the same social gathering. Person C may make a small joke about person A. Person B may believe it is insensitive and rude therefore feel sympathetic, or even guilty for not rebutting that person’s comment. Person C may find it hilarious and therefore feel most likely happy, however person B would be feeling the opposite, feeling upset, hurt and maybe even a little bit angry. All these different emotions can be triggered due to one incident/event during social interactions and this happens countless times in everyone’s daily lives.

We also have emotions in regards to the future, such as:

  • Worry
  • Ambition
  • Determination
  • Drive
  • Passion for a goal (the emotional energy and drive to do things and to create ideas)

These emotions are triggered through the thought of the anticipation beyond the present.

To what extent can we control them? In my opinion, I believe you cannot actually control emotions. You can try to force yourself to believe and pursue your thoughts in a certain way because that is the ‘right’ thing or that is ‘for the best’, however in reality, what you actually feel and believe cannot be easily manipulated. I say this because


What relationship do they have with reason?

What does the James-Lange theory say about emotion?

Limits of emotion as a Way of Knowing? Relationship between emotion and experience?

Do people act their way into feeling or feel their way into action? What is the relationship between emotion and experience?
How did your feelings or emotions affect (positively or negatively) your ability to perform, to make decisions or to reason? How did you deal with such situations?

Real life situations:


Key terms learnt in this topic:

Empathy – Empathy is our ability to understand and connect to another person’s emotional state.

Apathy – Apathy literally means “without passion”. It is a state of mind where a preson makes decisions without consideration of emotions.

Social emotions – Social emotions are emotions triggered through our social interaction. Some examples include ambition, contempt, gratitude and sympathy.

Emotional colouring – A termed used to refer to the effect emotion can have on our perception causing us to be unaware of some aspects of our life. (E.g.”Love is blind” If we love someone we tend to ignore the faults others may see in them)


– Where do emotions comes from?

– Key terms

– Linking Questions to Emotion

Emotion in relation to Reason

IS ToK blog

More on Emotion

How to understand, identify and release your emotions