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Politics knowledge questions

Politics knowledge questions

Knowledge questions (KQs) form the heart of the TOK course, and provide us with the opportunity to discuss, explore, and sometimes argue about the way in which we acquire, use, and evaluate our knowledge about the world.

Although the knowledge questions on politics that you see here link primarily to this optional theme, many of them link to other AOKs, and themes, so one of the first things to consider is how they relate to, and impact on, other aspects of the course.

Knowledge questions on the nature and scope of politics

  • These KQs on politics relate to Big Question 1, our first BQ unit for TOK
  • They also link to the nature and scope of politics, part of the IB’s knowledge framework
  • Good KQs ask how we know about the world (second-order knowledge), rather than what we know about the world (first-order knowledge)
  • Being able to tell the difference between first and second-order knowledge can be difficult, but it is the most important attribute of successful TOK thinking

Should we approach political data in a quantitative or qualitative way?

To what extent is evidence necessary (rather than, say, assumptions) in order to make a judgement about politics?

How does studying politics differ from practising politics?

Are our political affiliations determined by our emotions?

How does having an ‘opinion’ about politics differ from ‘knowing’ about politics?

Can political statistics provide us with objective knowledge?

Knowledge questions on the relationship between politics and values

  • These KQs on knowledge & politics relate to Big Question 2, our second BQ unit for TOK
  • They also link to politics and ethics, part of the IB’s knowledge framework
  • Good KQs ask how we know about the world (second-order knowledge), rather than what we know about the world (first-order knowledge)
  • Being able to tell the difference between first and second-order knowledge can be difficult, but it is the most important attribute of successful TOK thinking

Are people’s political and moral outlooks indivisible?

How is data analytics and social media presenting new ethical challenges when it comes to political decision making?

Is it possible to transcend the moral codes of individual countries?

Can political knowledge be separated from values?

Within a democratic system, do all knowers have an ethical responsibility to possess awareness about political issues?

Do political leaders have additional ethical responsibilities compared to ‘ordinary’ knowers?

Are politicians morally bound to pursue evidence-based policies?

Knowledge questions on the communication of ideas in politics

  • These KQs on knowledge & politics relate to Big Question 3, our third BQ unit for TOK
  • They also link to methods, tools, and practices of politics, part of the IB’s knowledge framework
  • Good KQs ask how we know about the world (second-order knowledge), rather than what we know about the world (first-order knowledge)
  • Being able to tell the difference between first and second-order knowledge can be difficult, but it is the most important attribute of successful TOK thinking

To what extent should political knowledge be interpreted by media sources before it is communicated?

How are ‘facts’ and statistics used and abused in politics?

How do words become politicized?

How do we know when we are being presented with information out of its correct context?

What does the new style in political graphics indicate about the way society processes information?

To what extent is emotive language used to manipulate us in politics?

What are the implications of letting an algorithm determine the character of editorial content within political reporting?

Knowledge questions on politics shaping – and being shaped by – our perspectives

  • These KQs on knowledge & politics relate to Big Question 4, our fourth BQ unit for TOK
  • They also link to perspectives & context related to politics, part of the IB’s knowledge framework for exploring TOK
  • Good KQs ask how we know about the world (second-order knowledge), rather than what we know about the world (first-order knowledge)
  • Being able to tell the difference between first and second-order knowledge can be difficult, but it is the most important attribute of successful TOK thinking

Why are referendums so contentious?

Can we be objective about politics?

How do our political affiliations and biases affect the way we acquire knowledge about the world?

Do we form our political affiliations via rational knowledge?

Is our reading of political history more a reflection of our times than the times we are looking at?

Are political views determined by our individual and societal perspectives?

How do our political affiliations influence our understanding of the world?

Knowledge questions on the creation of new ideas in politics

  • These KQs on knowledge & politics relate to Big Question 5, our fifth BQ units for TOK
  • They also link to methods, tools, and practices of politics, part of the IB’s knowledge framework
  • Good KQs ask how we know about the world (second-order knowledge), rather than what we know about the world (first-order knowledge)
  • Being able to tell the difference between first and second-order knowledge can be difficult, but it is the most important attribute of successful TOK thinking

What impact has technology and social media made on the way we acquire political knowledge?

How and why do the reputations of political and historical figures change over time?

To what extent are our political affiliations formed by the way we identify with historical events?

Is political knowledge produced solely to consolidate power?

Knowledge questions on becoming a discerning knower about politics

  • These KQs on knowledge & politics relate to Big Question 6, our final BQ unit for TOK
  • They also link to methods, tools, and practices of politics, part of the IB’s knowledge framework
  • Good KQs ask how we know about the world (second-order knowledge), rather than what we know about the world (first-order knowledge)
  • Being able to tell the difference between first and second-order knowledge can be difficult, but it is the most important attribute of successful TOK thinking

Do political leaders need to be knowledgeable?

Is it possible to apply reasoned argument about politics?

Is there a base-level of knowledge that we need to possess before voting?

Can an individual knower ever know what is right for others?

Can we make accurate predictions in politics?

Is consensus possible about political issues?

Link these KQs to the exhibition

Our TOK exhibition prompt decoder helps you to understand each of the 35 IA prompts, link them to the core and optional themes, and the 12 key TOK concepts, and explore them via quotes, questions, TED talks, and media sources. Access the decoder here.

Explore the KQs in more depth

Our sixty-six Exploration Point documents (updated every month) help you delve deeper into TOK via media sources, unpacking ideas, guidance on the key concepts, and other tips. HERE is an example of a EP document (for history & perspectives) – join us to gain access to the other sixty-five!

Subscribe to the TOK newsletter

Our TOK newsletter helps you explore the most important events and issues going on today, and fully grasp how TOK concepts manifest in the real world. Read a recent edition here, subscribe to the free version here, and gain access to the premium version by joining theoryofknowledge.net.