I think there is universal moral values on a very basic point of view. For example, we cannot steal things for no reason, we cannot kill people for no reason, and we cannot harm others’ interests for no reason. But the reason why people argue and differ greatly on what is good and what is bad is that when a person does some “bad things” for some special reason, this may not be a bad thing. For example, when two countries fight, soldiers will always suffer casualties. Killing is not necessarily a bad thing at this time. Because the soldiers on both sides are in have different opinions, they are fighting for their own interests. At this time,we can’t say that neither of them was wrong or right. However, some people think that killing is wrong, such as some Christians. They think that for whatever reason, killing is wrong. This is why people argue about what is good and what is bad. “Facts” are different opinions for everyone. But homicide and murder are completely different concepts. Although both of them are essentially taking the lives of others, some people kill for revenge and some kill for the country. There are other factors in them. Murder is a completely different concept. Murder means that a person actively kills someone who is related or unrelated to him, and the reason for the murder is outrageous or crazy, for example, some people murder others because he likes to kill. In this case, we can draw a conclusion that murder is not necessarily wrong, but murder are absolutely wrong.
Tim Sprod, highly experienced TOK teacher and co-author of one of the best TOK textbooks, recently posted this comment to the IBO’s “Online Curriculum Centre” TOK forum for teachers:
The examples of TOK presentations to be found with a search engine should – in my opinion – NEVER be taken as good exemplars. While there are a few that are good, most of them are not – not good, and in most cases, not TOK presentations. If you are looking at them to find good examples, then you presumably don’t yet have the ability to sort out the good from the bad.
All the ones I have seen that are pre-recorded videos (as opposed to videos of live presentations) have been, to put it bluntly, rubbish – they do not meet the criteria in the TOK Guide, no matter how much the students putting them up claim they do.
If you read recent subject reports, you will find that too many of the presentations that have been sent in for sampling are simply not meeting the specifications laid out in the TOK Guide. (For example, see the May 2013 SR, p 18, pp 20-21, p 22 under General Comments). Not all teachers seem to understand what these are. A lot of these non-TOK presentations seem to make it onto the web. I did an extensive search for good TOK presentations earlier in the year, and found very few.
[Clarification. The official example of a TOK presentation found on the OCC is, as Mark says, “not-so-good in many ways”, but it is a not-so-good TOK presentation, as opposed to a non-TOK presentation.]
In short: don’t go there.
Most of what you need to know, right here:
Updated version for the new TOK syllabus (first exams in 2015):
The TOK oral presentation requires that students focus on a ‘real-life situation’ that raises one or more ‘knowledge issues’ and then analyze how those questions might be considered, with explicit reference to appropriate Areas of Knowledge and Ways of Knowing.
Here are a few ideas for ‘real-life situations’ that raise knowledge issues. Suggest additions to the list in the comments.
- How do I know whether to trust what the doctor says?
- How do I know whether to trust what the government says?
- Which political candidate should I support?
- How do I decide which product I should buy?
- How do people decide whether they should smoke cigarettes (or drink alcohol, or use drugs)?
- Should some drugs be illegal?
- Should prostitution be illegal?
- Should the government regulate pornography, or make it illegal altogether; or not?
- Should prisons attempt to rehabilitate criminals?
- Is it wrong to download songs or videos or books from the internet without paying for them?
- Should dogfights be illegal? [other animal-rights situations would also work]
Please add your own ideas in comments to this post, but in your comment please clearly distinguish (as I have not above) a real-life situation and corresponding knowledge issue for each of your suggestions.
Another possible topic for an oral presentation: a teenaged author, accused of plagiarism, says she’s part of a new culture that’s all about ‘authenticity’, not ‘originality’.
There may be an interesting oral presentation somewhere in here:
David Bowie predicted that because of internet and piracy, copyright is going to be dead in ten years. You agree?
No. If copyright dies, if patents die, if the protection of intellectual property is eroded, then people will stop investing. That hurts everyone. People need to have the incentive that if they invest and succeed, they can make a fair profit. Otherwise they’ll stop investing. But on another level entirely, it’s just wrong to steal. Or, let’s put it another way: it is corrosive to one’s character to steal. We want to provide a legal alternative. And we want to make it so compelling that all those people out there who really want to be honest, and really don’t want to steal, but haven’t had a choice if they wanted to get their music online, will now have a choice. And we think over time, most people stealing music will choose not to if a fair and resonable alternative is presented to them. We are optimists. We always have been.
—Steve Jobs, 2003