INTRODUCTION all AoK’s. In the natural sciences “scientific knowledge”

INTRODUCTION

   Within
the Areas of Knowledge (AoK’s) like the natural sciences and mathematics there
are different ways and different rates of progression. This is partially
because in each of these AoK’s the definition of knowledge slightly differs.
For example in the natural sciences ‘scientific knowledge’ may be defined as
information that has been found to be valid through empirical evidence and
rational deduction and has not yet been disproven. Additionally, in mathematics
the process of developing new theories and methods for solving equations
requires an organised system of agreement and disagreement to improve the
theories further by disproving a theory or finding more details hidden within
them. One may argue that robust knowledge consists of only consensus or only
disagreement, or a combination of the two. This leads to the connection to the
Way of Knowing (WoK) Reason, because to come to a consensus or disagreement,
one must use reasoning to support one’s claim. Furthermore, this may lead to
the knowledge question: “To What Extent Are Disagreements and Consensus
Valuable and Contribute in Building Robust Knowledge?”

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    In order to come to a form of agreement,
some form of disagreement has to take place in order to scrutinize the proposed
suggestions and in some cases improve them. The method of forming consensus and
disagreement varies across AoK’s like the natural sciences and mathematics,
although similar, may process the arguments differently. Additionally, the
definition of knowledge, robust knowledge in this case, varies across all AoK’s.
In the natural sciences “scientific knowledge” may be defined as information that
has been found to be valid through empirical evidence and rational deduction
and has not yet been disproven.

    Robust
knowledge can refer to the testability of the knowledge and whether the
knowledge can be defended in the AOK when consensus and disagreement are
occurring. Additionally, within these areas of knowledge there are certain
aspects that require consensus or disagreement to further improve and confirm
these statements. The knowledge can only be considered robust by someone is in
the same field.  It is typically the root of knowledge and other knowledge
stems from it. The claim is that robust knowledge can only be achieved through
a combination of consensus and disagreement, whereas alternatively robust
knowledge can be achieved through only consensus or only disagreement.

    A
method of supporting a claim through consensus and disagreement is the support
from Evidence and Proof. Evidence is defined as the facts we offer to support
our claims of truth. Proof is defined as what we interpret from the facts
offered. In both situations an opinion is created which leads to the formation
of consensus or disagreement. When a claim is made by an individual the
recipient will often require evidence or proof. Depending on the requirement, a
different answer will be formed in reply. This will in return lead to a debate
of consensus or disagreement. If there is no proof, the knowledge loses its
credibility and will most likely be disregarded.

The Natural Sciences

     The nature of scientific knowledge is
arranged for the way in which it progresses. The previous knowledge is
questioned and shaped, rather than discarded, to form new knowledge. Within
the field of science, a largely discussed and argued topic is Climate change.
Within this field of study there has been debate of what to call this
phenomenon that is changing or world at a faster rate than ever seen before. One
part of the debate is whether it is called Global warming or Climate change.
Scientists have to prove with reasons that not only are we experiencing this
phenomenon, but also giving the name to the process. One argument that is often
used is this concept that the earth goes through cycles of temperature changes,
and every so often experiences extreme high temperatures, and extreme low temperatures
and this has happened ever since the earth came to existence. However,
scientists have said that our earth is experiencing the rise in extreme
temperatures globally, but also the rise in extreme weather fluctuations and in
the not too distant future could experience a great freeze. The other side of the
debate argues that the earth is only experiencing the phenomenon of
temperatures raising, hence the name Global warming rather than climate change.
Consequentially, large debates have developed as to which concept is to blame
for the changes we are experiencing on our planet, but the largest debate of
all is the question of whether climate change is actually real. Within science,
the method in which knowledge is confirmed or solidified is through testing; controlled
experiments such as temperature observations, ice core dating etc.  Once evidence is created, the size of debate
usually decreases, which solidifies a theory or concept leading to what one can
consider robust knowledge. In the climate change debate, within the community
of scientists there is generally overall consensus that climate change is real
and the evidence strongly suggests that it is a natural process.

    
The only part of the debate that stands out is the idea that mankind is
worsening the effects climate change (anthropogenic the effect of mankind) is
having on our planet, and that we are speeding up the process through our
emissions and overuse of fossil fuels. This debate is between the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Think-tanks. Think-tanks have
created over 90% of their articles, disputing that climate change is a real
thing. Think-tanks such as The Heartland Institute and Exxonmobil are key
players in this dispute. This is where other AoK step into the debate and tend to
disagree. This largely happens in politics and religious knowledge systems, like
we are seeing in our day and age.  Some
areas of Knowledge don’t believe in scientific evidence because there is no
true reasoning behind the argument. One may call it the forced
consensus/disagreement, or even a paradox, if somebody in power disagrees then
everybody in respect should disagree as well (Knowledge by authority). This may
be a problem in religious knowledge systems. As the Austrian-British
philosopher Karl Popper argues in his book ‘The Logic of Scientific Discovery’
(Karl Popper, 1959), scientific knowledge has a history, solidifying its
robustness, and has a testable nature. However, religious knowledge consists of
ideals that are not necessarily the same as they were a thousand years ago, and
is a field that has no evidence and is not testable, almost a belief bias. It
relies purely on peoples own beliefs and religious knowledge. Over thousands of
years, scientific knowledge has developed and increased in robustness with
multiple layers of proof, whereas religious knowledge has changed its
complexity and only accounts for religious knowledge which does not have
testable factors within it.

Mathematics

In mathematics, however, there is a different
concept of robust knowledge and how it is derived. In the first stages of a
theory being developed there is the process of both consensus and disagreement
arising, yet, in the last stages and after being officialised in most cases
there is no room for disagreement. This is due to the nature of math, and how
the majority of problems have set solutions. The consensus and disagreement may
arise in the methodology of solving the problems or equations, because there
can be multiple ways of solving a problem. For example in a quadratic equation,
one can use the quadratic formula, or factorize it if possible. You still
arrive to the same answers but they are different methods. Those different
methods were developed in order to speed up the process or efficiency of
solving the equations, but like every process in developing a method, it has to
be tested and agreed on.

Another mathematical example,
still within trigonometry, is the equation of the trigonometric identity cos2?+sin2?=1.
Without debate this equation is true. It is the most fundamental identity
in trigonometry. The identity is equivalent to the Pythagorean Theorem. The
proper question is then whether it is possible to
prove cos2?+sin2?=1. However, the debate arises once somebody uses a
different method to solve this identity and prove it. I experienced this first
hand in my math class during our unit of trigonometry. We were asked to prove
the exact same trigonometric identity as mentioned before, and I solved it by
inserting the same value for both angle values in the equation and received the
answer of 1 as predicted. However, my friend used a different method and
replaced an equivalent value for the two trigonometric identities and still got
the same answer. Yet, the problems arose when I asked her how she got her
answer, and she couldn’t explain it. This lead to me disagreeing with her
method, but I couldn’t disagree with the answer she got because it was the same
answer I got. This is also most likely the way in which new methods are
discovered, because somebody at some point in time tried a different method and
had to prove and satisfy the people who didn’t agree with their method. This is
another example where disagreement leads to the development of robust
knowledge.

CONCLUSION

   We can’t really come to a conclusion about
robust knowledge and whether it comes from only consensus or disagreement or a
combination of both. It varies from each AOK to the next because they are different
systems and often implement different methods or formats for agreeing or
disagreeing with a statement or fact.  From exploring the concepts of robust
knowledge, I can conclude that in order to obtain robust knowledge some form of
disagreement and agreement must take place to solidify and improve these
concepts and develop to reach the end result of consensus or dismissal.