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Robust Knowledge Requires Both Consensus and Disagreement

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University of California, Santa Barbara
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Robust knowledge refers to knowledge that is credible, relevant and legitimate in a way that can survive criticism. Robust knowledge refers to knowledge that is acceptable by all parties that are involved in the application of the knowledge. Robust knowledge is acquired from experimentation and research which removes any doubt and makes such knowledge acquired from experimentation and research. Robust knowledge can only be termed as robust knowledge if it can sustain criticism. Robust knowledge can be tested through disagreement which helps to access and revisit the credibility of the knowledge. On the other hand, robust knowledge should have consensus from different people who accept the credibility of knowledge and its applicability.

Isnt all knowledge robust?

All knowledge is not robust. Supporting this because we can only say knowledge is robust if it survives all sorts of criticism and disagreements that may be based on natural science or ethics and emotions. For example, the knowledge that says "water can drown you." This statement may face disagreement, and it may also be legitimate to stand all the disagreements. The fact that water can drown you is robust knowledge because if one does not know how to deal with water by a skill like swimming, it is beyond no doubt that water can drown you. On the other hand, this can be disagreed with by saying that the intensity of water will get you floating thus water cannot easily drown you. With the both: consensus and disagreement, the consensus stands out to be stronger than the disagreement looks vague and discreet. Although people will want to criticize robust knowledge, some of it stands out strong as it is factually based on natural science. For example, "fish has no legs." This statement is an entirely robust knowledge that cannot be disagreed on the basis of science or ethics. People tend to firmly believe that what they have at hand on bases of knowledge is correct and stand strong to oppose any disagreement. Socially, humans believe that knowledge is robust, but this can be proven by testing it by for example using boundary spanning. In an evolving project, all knowledge has to be produced first so that it can face analysis by other producers to see if the knowledge is credible and relevant enough to continue putting up the project (Davis). In such a case, if the projects knowledge faces much disagreement, then it is not good enough to be put up. Looking at an example of a project of renewable charcoal, it is the social robust knowledge that renewable charcoal would be of much help as it is very economic. Contrary, it might not be robust as it may be going out in a short period of which there may be no need to have charcoal that goes out in a short period.

Isnt it a belief that its not?

Yes, it is. Knowledge can sometimes face defeat. Defeat can be in different ways. It is easy for a person to describe a case according to their knowledge thinking they know it well and are correct but by adding extra credible details of the analysis, it turns out that the person was very wrong after all. This makes human belief that knowledge is not robust as it may face correct and positive criticism and turn out to be a completely different fact. Knowledge can be skills achieved through education or experience, so in many cases, people believe they know something well and are right, but with a few analysis and addition of details it turns out they do not know it (Davis). Example, through education, we know that a family is made up of a father, a mother, and children. This though can be changed by positive criticism that family is the people who support you and show you unconditional love, and they may be your aunts or grandparents because even extended families are still families. Through experience, one may argue out that sickness comes from living an unhealthy lifestyle because probably they fell ill from a bad lifestyle. Disagreeing with this one may say that there are people who live very healthy lifestyles and still fall sick so sickness does not come from lifestyle as it can be genetic or infection from another human. From this, we can say that people believe that not all knowledge is robust, may it be from education or experience as adding more details may change the truthfulness of knowledge on beliefs to be right about.

Does knowledge rely on opinion?

Knowledge does not rely on opinion. Knowledge usually is based on facts whereas opinions can be based on feelings. Knowledge is objective while opinions are subjective. By this I mean that knowledge usually is based on what exists despite our beliefs and evaluations, while opinions are subjective in that what exists is because of our beliefs and evaluations. For example: if it is raining, it is knowledge that is there that there is rain outside but for an opinion, I might be happy that it is rainy outside because my crops will grow well and it someone else might be sad because their clothes cannot dry from outside. Robust knowledge is something that is not prior to any changes, unlike opinions which can be changed. Taking an example of a lion is carnivorous. This is knowledge that cannot be changed as a lion can never feed on herbs as it is a carnivorous animal. One may have an opinion that lions should be tamed to be domestic animal. This opinion is wrong and is not a fact, it is just subjective because the person loves lion and thinks they would be fit to keep as pets at home. Knowledge can bring about development of an opinion but an opinion cannot develop knowledge. With the knowledge that traffic lights are meant to control movement of people and car in the city, one would come up with an opinion that they are annoying as they are time consuming but this opinion can never be credible knowledge as traffic lights knowledge is robust. Opinions usually are an expression of knowledge. People give their opinions according to what they know and believe is right. That is why people have different opinions based on different knowledge. Like in this essay people will defend the statement of knowledge is robust based on what they understand as knowers. Knowledge can never rely on opinion because opinions can be right or wrong but knowledge especially knowledge that is factual not the skills that we learn is not prone to any changes of being right or wrong. If a car has a red color, it is knowledge that the car is red and it is not open to opinion that the car has a different color. Humans have two eyes, this is very basic knowledge that cannot be disagreed upon through the creation of diverse opinions like humans have three eyes. An opinion is just a thought of someones own knowledge because of a belief they hold or the emotions they carry regarding a particular thing. Even though people like giving their opinions in a case to try prove that knowledge is not robust, in most cases, the knowledge stands out to face the criticism. For example, it is a factual knowledge that a vehicle cannot start its engine without fuel. Someone will come out with an opinion that if you push the car forward, it will start up and will only stop if you apply some brakes on it but this is illegitimate as it can only be if the vehicle is on a sloppy surface. The opinion is right but it cannot beat the factual knowledge as a car on a steep area will not work with the push- start method. Clearly, no knowledge can be based on opinions it is objective, and the opinion is subjective.

What is the difference between rational and non-rational disagreement?

A rational disagreement is one that is based on logistics and reasons while a non-rational disagreement is one that is senseless or absurd. A rational agreement usually is objective whereas the non- rational is subjective. The rational disagreements are arguments that are not based on religion or beliefs. However, on the other hand, non-rational disputes of knowledge are usually on ideologies. For example if two people are arguing about winning a game they could argue on bases of the player and to come to a rational decision they may decide to change players. A non-rational disagreement could be two people arguing about which food is best to eat, and they may not decide as there are lacks any logic that can help solve the issue as both of them have their own beliefs.

The objective disagreements can decide to come up with a parallel decision or solution to their argument but in a subjective argument both parties want to have a win, and none will accept defeat (Rational, non-rational and irrational decision making). Nonrational is usually the argument that can be obtained through intuition rather than reasoning. For example, in a political environment where war has failed to be curbed, the officers may decide to use force that is not documented, and this may bring forth a non-rational disagreement between the people and the government causing more war. In a rational disagreement, the alternatives are usually set, and calculations of the alternatives are made to see how close the goals may be to save the argument. For example, two people who are listening to a court verdict are disagreeing on who will win in the ruling; they may have an alternative to present to the other lawyers and listening to their ruling to see which one wins to solve their disagreements. Non-rational disagreement based on religion for example, may be from a religions intuitions. One party may be saying that their religion is more stern and strict while the other opposes saying that they do not uphold values and beliefs of their religion. This disagreement has no logistics or alternatives that can be put in place for settling the argument as it is subjective. Rational agreements are based on good reasons, unlike the non-rational disagreements that have baseless points.

In conclusion, robust knowledge require both disagreement and consensus to create more credible and effective knowledge that promotes its application. Robust knowledge requires disagreement because it encourage the establishment of the knowledge credibility. Disagreeing with robust knowledge results in the establishment of a consensus amongst researchers which help establish the acceptability of disagreement of knowledge. Therefore, robust knowledge requires both disagreement and consensus to establish its credibility and applicability by a high number of people.

Works Cited

Davis, Eboni. "?Robust Knowledge Requires Both Consensus and Disagreement?" Medium, 21 Sept. 2017, .

"Rational, Nonrational and Irrational Decision Making." Jesus Gil Hernandez, 31 Mar. 2014,

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