Evaluate the role of intuition in different areas of knowledge.

“Science is built of facts the way a house is built of bricks: but an accumulation of facts is no more science than a pile of bricks is a house” (Henri Poincaré). Discuss in relation to science and at least one other area of knowledge.

Gandhi Memorial International School

Are reason and emotion equally necessary in justifying moral decisions?

United Nations International School

These essays show a level of personal engagement and reflection that make them outstanding responses to prescribed titles from 2008 and 2009 examination sessions. All essays have been reproduced in their entirety; examiner comments and school or candidate identifiers have been removed where necessary but no errors have been corrected. Teachers are encouraged to use this publication to inspire their students as they research and write their own essays. The range of examples of excellent work demonstrated here should help students to develop their own individual responses to future prescribed titles.

Helsingin Suomalainen Yhteiskoulu

The IB wishes to thank all the students and supervisors for their outstanding contribution to this publication. In some instances we could not reach the students to obtain permission to publish their names; in these cases the essays appear anonymously.

The American School Foundation, A. C.

American International School, Vienna

Our senses tell us that a table, for example, is a solid object; science tells us that the table is mostly empty space. Thus two sources of knowledge generate conflicting results. Can we reconcile such conflicts?

When should we trust our senses to give us truth?

50 Excellent Theory of Knowledge Essays ideally complements recently published curriculum materials such as Theory of knowledge assessment exemplars (published in March 2009) and IB Prepared: Approach your assessment the IB way—Theory of knowledge (published in March 2010). The Theory of knowledge guide can be purchased from the IB store at

Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of reason as a way of knowing.

Mathematicians have the concept of rigorous proof, which leads to knowing something with complete certainty. Consider the extent to which complete certainty might be achievable in mathematics and at least one other area of knowledge.

United World College of SE Asia

“Moral wisdom seems to be as little connected to knowledge of ethical theory as playing good tennis is to knowledge of physics” (Emrys Westacott). To what extent should our actions be guided by our theories in ethics and elsewhere?

Does language play roles of equal importance in different areas of knowledge?


Submitted to meet the requirements of the theory of knowledge course outlined in the Theory of knowledge guide published in March 2006 (for first examinations in 2008), these essays fully meet the requirements for a high A grade.

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Helsingin Suomalainen Yhteiskoulu

Yew Chung International School - Hong Kong

Thanks also go to Nick Alchin, Anita Bjelke Holt, Julian Kitching and Daniel Leserre for the recommendations that have shaped 50 Excellent Theory of Knowledge Essays.