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The knowledge that we value the most is the knowledge for which we can provide the

strongest justifications. To what extent would you agree with this claim?
I generally agree with this claim because we tend to value that which is important to us and so
justify the important knowledge to ourselves. Our belief system determines what we value and so
we believe what we justify the most strongly.
The key terms to understand in this sentence are knowledge and justification. Socrates defined
knowledge as a true, justified belief (Mr Hayes TOK lesson) and I will accept that definition.
Justification means showing or proving to be reasonable. It can also mean a reason, fact,
circumstance, or explanation that justifies or defends. ( In this essay I will take
justification to mean showing that something is right.
When we value knowledge we are saying that the knowledge is important to us. Someone may
challenge that knowledge and so we have to justify our knowledge. Sometimes when we try to
justify our knowledge we can see we have made a mistake and so change our knowledge because
the new knowledge is more able to be justified and hence is more valuable.
An example of this can be seen in medieval times when people thought that the earth was flat.
They believed that you could fall off the edge of the earth and so they were scared to travel too far.
They believed their knowledge was valuable and so they justified their decision not to travel. When
people made their counter claim that the earth was round at first they were not believed. But
eventually people found evidence that the earth was round and Colombus discovered America.
This meant that the new knowledge was justified and so was more valuable.
In order to see how we justify knowledge claims we need to consider how we obtain knowledge.
Our knowledge is based on perception plus logic. Information becomes knowledge through
repetitive occurrence - that is, results from both perception and logic remain unchanged a number
of times. All the knowledge we have is based on our perception and logic with an underlying
assumption of certainty - that is to say that there is a one-to-one relationship between cause and
effect. Because we believe in logic we can use it to justify our knowledge claims. A counter claim to
this is that logic does not apply to all situations and sometimes we can justify things from our
emotions. There are some things in any logical system such as mathematics that we just have to
believe, for example, 2+2=4.
There are however dangers in just using your emotions. Hitler believed that Germans were a
superior race. He thought he was using logic but he was relying on his prejudices to give him his
knowledge. By using his emotions and not logic millions of people died.
An external view of the justification of knowledge is bound to fall down before the point that all
external interaction is done through an individuals highly varied perceptions, thoroughly distorting
what truly exists (if we wish to assume that anything does exist beyond our mere perceptions).
Thus any number of people agreeing that grass is green does not justify that it truly is so, it may
simply mean that all of the observers have been misled by their senses into believing the grass to
be green.
This brings us to the use of language as a way of knowing. We communicate our justifications to
others through language. We assume that other people can understand our language even if they
have different experiences from us. We all base our judgements on our experience (which is
ultimately our perceptions) and those experiences are defined by our senses, yes. Social
definitions of any given thing are 'fact' only when, according to scientific methodology, we all agree
on a given defining factor -- regardless of whether or not that factor (or the perception thereof) can
have evidence that it is subjective. On the surface, we can all 'agree' that love is good and hate is
bad.... based on common, major experiences (perceptions) that have been grouped together in

agreement. however, the deeper we delve, 'love' and 'hate' become different when defined under
different (perhaps more individual) circumstances.
My justifications depend on my experiences. Although I have entertained atheistic thoughts--in
other words, I have considered the possibility that God may not exist--I am pretty well convinced
that he does exist. I think there's something out there, anyway. If I end up being wrong, I'll just eat
my words and get on with it in whatever way I can, though I'm not sure how I could do that,
because I would be dead. But getting back to why I believe, it's just really hard to explain. I hate to
beg the question, but I just feel that there is a strong spiritual realm, because of some of my
experiences, and because of a lot of other people's experiences.
Likewise the knowledge that is valuable depends on our experiences rather than what we can
justify. An artist will value knowledge about paint and a canvas and how to use them whereas a
scientist would value the knowledge of the chemicals in the paint. Each places a different value on
the knowledge to the other person and would justify that reasons for their beliefs differently.
In my own family, my grandmother who grew up in Latvia, has a different perception of what
knowledge is valuable than I do as a 21st century Australian. She grew up in a time of food
shortages and so valued knowledge about what berries could be picked in the forest or which
mushrooms were safe to eat. This knowledge could be justified because it helped her family
survive. As a teenager in Sydney I have to justify different knowledge, such as the best place to
shop or which artists I should see at a concert. This knowledge suits my lifestyle, which is different
to my grandmothers.
In conclusion I agree with the statement that we value knowledge that we can most strongly justify.
If we do not justify our knowledge then we cannot truly believe it. If we do not believe it then it is
not really knowledge. If it is not knowledge then we cannot value it. Therefore we must value the
knowledge that we can strongly justify.
Grade: 7