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November 2021 TOK Essay Title Breakdowns 1

In this post, I unpack the key terms from the first three November 2021 essay titles and suggest some ideas to consider when structuring your argument. For more extensive title breakdowns, as well as ways to apply the different AOK’s and other key TOK concepts to the questions, please check out my November 2021 essay guides here.

Title 1: Why is it so difficult to identify a clear line between accepted and disputed knowledge within a discipline? Answer with reference to two disciplines, each taken from a different area of knowledge.

Key Terms

‘Accepted knowledge’

This may be defined along the lines of knowledge claims which are widely considered to be true amongst experts in a particular field, or people in general.

‘Disputed knowledge’

‘Disputed knowledge’ may refer to those claims which are more contentious or lack a widespread consensus.

Ideas to Explore

  • Shared knowledge

  • Reason and rational criticism

  • Emotion and non-rational criticism

  • Justification of knowledge claims

  • Expert opinion

  • Declarative vs procedural knowledge

Title 2: "Knowledge gained through direct experience is powerful but problematic." To what extent do you agree with this statement?

Key terms

‘Direct experience’

How knowers interact with the world and acquire knowledge through sense perception. Such interactions can happen in many different contexts, for example within specific communities, educational contexts as well as out in the natural world.


Implies that information gathered in this way is given a significant precedence in the categorization, or organization of, an individual’s knowledge.


Implies issues with the reliability or validity of knowledge acquired through direct experience.

Ideas to Explore

  • Sense perception

  • Emotion

  • Memory

  • A posteriori knowledge

  • Innate ideas

  • Inductive reasoning

Title 3: "There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact." (Arthur Conan Doyle). Discuss this claim with reference to two areas of knowledge.

‘obvious fact’

Facts which are immediately perceivable to a knower. This could imply that verifying them is unnecessary.


Conveys the idea of misleading someone or not conveying the complete truth of something.

Ideas to Explore

  • Common sense realism

  • Truthmaker theory

  • Appearance vs reality

  • Validity

  • Abstractions

  • Dogmatism

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Real life examples are a crucial component of your essay as they serve to link your arguments to the real world. Two major indicators of the quality of your examples are ´originality´ and ´relevancy´.

The full list of prescribed titles for the November 2022 Theory of Knowledge essay assessment will be posted here shortly. Please check back here soon.

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