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Is Quality of Knowledge Best Measured by Acceptance?

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Philosophy
Wordcount: 2283 words Published: 8th Feb 2020

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“The quality of knowledge is best measured by how many people accept it.” Discuss this claim with reference to two areas of knowledge.

Through knowledge, we acquire power and awareness and gain from our experiences and education. Quality is the degree of excellence of something, and is key to the value of knowledge. Quality knowledge is used as the foundation of everything we know. What constitutes something as quality knowledge? When discussing quality knowledge, how fit it is for the purpose must be heavily considered. This means that the quality can only be defined in terms of the goals of an organization, individual or set of individuals. Knowledge can be either personal or shared. Personal knowledge is knowledge that is driven by opinion and shared knowledge is knowledge that is accepted widely. We commonly gain personal knowledge through personal experiences and impressions made by others, meanwhile shared knowledge does not depend on the contributions of an individual but rather a whole community. These types of knowledge are easy to apply to real life situations and help shape the way we accept knowledge.[1] To accept something means to believe or come to recognize an opinion, explanation, etc. as valid or correct. With that being said, I agree with the title given. The quality of knowledge is best measured by how many people accept it, and justified evidence typically plays a part with convincing people to accept.

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In order to justify this claim, the fields of natural sciences are applicable. To induce quality knowledge in the natural sciences, observation and constructed reasoning are needed. A prediction, theory and experiment are typically necessary in order to prove a claim. For a theory to be accepted in the natural sciences, it has to be validated by more than one person, which then follows by an experiment done in order to classify whether the theory is correct or incorrect. A classic example of this technique being used is vaccinations. Vaccinations first came around in 1796, when Edward Jenner’s use of cowpox material created immunity to smallpox. This practice was quickly widespread once the positive outcomes became better known. Jenner’s method underwent medical and technological changes and eventually resulted in the eradication of smallpox. Developments of more vaccinations rapidly followed, and vaccines against diphtheria, plague, typhoid, tuberculosis, and more were created through the 1930s.[2] The discovery of vaccinations and the medical and technological advancements made is imperative because vaccinations are a proven way to prevent diseases and illnesses and stops them from spreading across the globe. Vaccinations are an example of quality knowledge because it has been a practice used by many people, and now over 85% of the world gets vaccinated every year to prevent diseases.

Despite the great advantages and improvements made by vaccinations, there is still some people who don’t believe in the practice. Although it’s more commonly practiced than not, vaccinations are protested by some due to sanitary, religious, and political objections. In 1853, following the protests and induced fear from citizens, an act passed that ordered mandatory vaccination for infants up to 3 months old, and by 1867 the act extended the age requirement to 14 years, adding penalties for refusal. These laws were immediately met with resistance from citizens who demanded the right to control their bodies and their children.[3] Faith and emotion can be tied into people protesting vaccinations because they are relying on their faith and natural remedies to cure illnesses. Those who are against vaccinations further prove that the quality of knowledge is best measured by how many people accept it because not only are vaccinations scientifically proven to be helpful, but more people believe in them then people who don’t.

The natural sciences is a constantly growing field where the consensus of shared knowledge changes overtime. The consensus of shared knowledge can change based on observation, the action or process of observing something or someone in order to gain information. Animal testing is a prime example that can be applied to this. Animal testing in the cosmetic field began as early as 1938, when The United States Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act was signed into law, which required some safety substantiation of cosmetic products and compelled companies to begin testing their products on animals. Following this act, the draize eye and skin irritancy tests were developed. These tests were considered to be the gold standard for cosmetic safety assessments, but they caused extensive animal suffering. After years of this practice being commonly used, cosmetic companies began to realize with scientific evidence that the results shown in these tests using animals are not necessarily transferable to humans. By 1998, The United Kingdom banned animal testing for cosmetic products and now in 2018, more than 400 cosmetic companies around the world are cruelty-free.[4] Reason can be applied to the ways of knowing, because it’s proven knowledge that is justified with evidence, and intuition because people are now realizing that it’s morally wrong to hurt animals and it’s unnecessary. This further proves that commonly accepted knowledge is quality knowledge because the shared knowledge at one point was that animal testing was necessary to experiment with products before human use, but now we have other alternatives and generally the world regards animal testing as animal abuse and morally wrong. This shows that the amount of people that accept that animal testing is wrong outweighs the number of people that believe it good, making this quality knowledge.

Even though cruelty-free products and non-animal testing is the common practice used now amongst cosmetic companies, there are still the handful of those who believe in the practice. The ways of knowing that are involved with this belief is reason. Most makeup companies don’t want to harm humans so they believe that testing on animals first will lessen the possibility of humans getting harmed. Despite animal-testing beginning as a widespread practice used in the makeup industry, through scientific evidence and experiments the practice was shown to be unnecessary, and now more companies don’t use the practice than those who do.

When discussing history, we must take in consideration the reliability of the sources we use. History is defined as the branch of knowledge that deals with past events; the formal record or study of past events, especially human affairs. The most common ways in which we gain knowledge of the past is through historical evidence. We constantly see a change in opinion when discussing history. For example, when Christopher Columbus encountered indigenous people throughout his voyages, he and his teams treated the indigenous groups as obstacles to their greater mission. Columbus’ use of violence and slavery, forced conversion of Christianity and introduction of new diseases to the native people in the Americas lead for his discovery to be known as a controversial. History from the past is limited to only written documents, meaning that at that time period Columbus had an advantage over the Native Americans by being literate. The only history proved at the time was what Columbus wrote for his European audience.[5] Through the years, however, the mistreatment of the Native Americans was brought to light. This additionally proves that quality knowledge is best measured by how many people accept it because the mistreatment of Indians is no longer a common practice and is now viewed as outrageous.

Despite historians having learned more about Christopher Columbus and the controversy that has arisen over the validity of honoring him as a hero, this wasn’t always the case. When he first came to the America’s, Columbus’ mistreatment of the Indians was commonly not frowned upon. It was a practice that those who came with Columbus’ agreed with, and even followed. Even though it was commonly accepted by those who came with Columbus’, it was still something that the Indians disagreed with and nowadays more people disagree with the discrimination Indians faced than people who agreed with it in the past.

There is always a constant shift in the way people think. Some of these shifts have more of an impact than others, such as when it comes to the Civil Rights movement. Despite many new findings and realizations, many people still believe that the white race is superior to other races. In a recent poll taken in 2018 by NBCNews, 64 percent of people said racism remains a major problem in our society.[6] Nowadays, police brutality is a common event we see on the news. African Americans are being murdered without cause due to racial beliefs and stereotypes held against them and often, those who commit the crime face no consequences. This is very similar to how things were when the Civil Rights movement was happening. African Americans would be lynched and instead of those committing the crime being punished, most of the time, if not always, they would be rewarded. Even though people still believe in this way of life, the majority of people don’t. Due to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, segregation in public places and employment discrimination on the basis of race, religion, or sex came to an end and human rights became valid.

When discussing quality knowledge within the natural sciences and history, there has been many cases where its best measured with how many people accept it. Practices and beliefs that are commonly accepted more than others are typically the ones that are justified with evidence. Shared knowledge must come into consideration when talking about quality knowledge, seeing as it’s what most people accept and it is usually supported by evidence. We base of our beliefs and way of life off of shared knowledge and it was what is presented to us often.

Works Cited

[1] “Theory of Knowledge.” theoryofknowledge.net.

[2] “Why Vaccinate? History of Vaccinations.” historyofvaccinations.org. (2018).

[3] “Why Vaccinate? History of Vaccinations.” historyofvaccinations.org. (2018).

[4] “Fact Sheet: Cosmetics Testing.” The Humane Society of the United States, (2018). humanesociety.org

[5] “The Suppressed Speech Of Wamsutta (Frank B.) James, Wampan.”  uaine.org.

[6] Andrew Arenge, Stephanie Perry and Dartunorro Clark. “Poll: 64 Percent of Americans Say Racism Remains a Major Problem.” NBCNews.com, (NBCUniversal News Group, 2018).    



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