Advertisement

Springer Nature is making Coronavirus research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Tacit knowledge, implicit learning and scientific reasoning

Abstract

The concept of tacit knowledge is widely used in social sciences to refer to all those knowledge that cannot be codified and have to be transferred by personal contacts. All this literature has been affected by two kind of “biases”: (1) the interest has been focused more on the result (tacit knowledge) than on the process (implicit learning); (2) “tacit knowledge” has been somehow reduced to physical skills or know-how; other possible forms of tacit knowledge have been neglected. These two “biases” seem interconnected one with each other. A greater consideration of the role and relevance of implicit learning allows us to consider tacit knowledge as something more than pure physical skills or know how. This is the first step in order to develop more detailed categorisation of the different forms that tacit knowledge can assume.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Notes

  1. 1.

    A quick research performed on the main databases for social sciences (Econlit, PsycINFO, Social Services Abstract and Sociological Abstract) on the period going from 1960 to 2006 gives the following results: the papers dealing with tacit knowledge are 590 (163 of which carrying the exact phrase “tacit knowledge” in the title). If we limit ourselves to consider only the last seven years (from 1999 to 2006), we find 356 papers dealing with tacit knowledge and 91 carrying “tacit knowledge” in the title. In other words, more than half of all the papers dealing in one way or another with this topic have been written in the last seven years.

References

  1. Anderson JR (1983) The architecture of cognition. Harvard University Press, Cambridge

  2. Berger PL, Luckmann T (1966) The social construction of reality. Doubleday, New York

  3. Broadbent DE, Fitzgerald P, Broadbent MH (1986) Implicit and explicit knowledge in the control of complex systems. Br J Psychol 77(1):33–50

  4. Chomsky N (1986) Knowledge of Language. Praeger, New York

  5. Chomsky N (1976) Reflections on Language. Fontana, Glasgow

  6. Cleeremans A (1997) Principles for implicit learning. In: Berry D (ed) How implicit is implicit learning. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 196–234

  7. Cleeremans A, Destrebecqz A, Boyer M (1998) Implicit learning: news from the front. Trends Cogn Sci 2(10):406–416

  8. Collins HM (2001) Tacit knowledge, trust, and the Q of sapphire. Soc Stud Sci 31(1):71–85

  9. Collins HM (1992) Changing order. University of Chicago Press, Chicago

  10. Dewey J, Bentley AF (1949) Knowing and the known. Beacon Press, Boston

  11. Ferguson ES (1992) Engineering and the mind’s eye. MIT Press, Cambridge

  12. French RM, Cleeremans A (eds) (2002) Implicit learning and consciousness. An empirical, philosophical and computational consensus in the making. Taylor & Francis, New York

  13. Gopnik A, Meltzoff A (1996) Words, thoughts, and theories. MIT Press, Cambridge

  14. Granovetter M (1985) Economic action and social structure: a theory of embeddedness. Am J Sociol 91(3):481–510

  15. Klahr D (2000) Exploring science. The cognition and development of discovery processes. MIT Press, Cambridge

  16. Langley P, Simon HA, Bradshaw GL, Zytkow JM (1987) Scientific discovery. Computational explorations of the creative processes. MIT Press, Cambridge

  17. Lehrer K (1990) Theory of knowledge. Routledge, London

  18. Lynch M (1993) Scientific practice and ordinary action. Etnomethodology and social studies of science. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

  19. MacKenzie D, Spinardi G (1995) Tacit knowledge, weapons design, and the uninvention of nuclear weapons. Am J Sociol 101(1):44–99

  20. Pinch T, Collins HM, Carbone L (1996) Inside knowledge: second order measures of skill. Sociol Rev 44(2):163–186

  21. Polanyi M (1969a) Knowing and being. In: Grene M (ed) Knowing and being. Essays. Routledge, London, pp 123–207

  22. Polanyi M (1969b) The logic of tacit inference. In: Grene M (eds) Knowing and being. Essays. Routledge, London, pp 138–158

  23. Polanyi M (1966) The tacit dimension. Routledge, London

  24. Polanyi M (1958) Personal knowledge: towards a post-critical philosophy. Routledge, London

  25. Reber AS (1993) Implicit learning and tacit knowledge. An essay on the cognitive unconscious. Oxford University Press, Oxford

  26. Ryle G (1949/1984) The Concept of mind. Chicago University Press, Chicago

  27. Schatzi TR, Knorr-Cetina K, von Savigny E (eds) (2001) The Practice turn in contemporary theory. Routledge, London

  28. Turner SP (1999) Practice in real time. Stud Hist Philos Sci 30:149–156

  29. Vincenti W (1990) What engineers know and how they know it: analytical studies from aeronautical history. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore

Download references

Acknowledgments

This article is a revised version of the paper presented at the International Conference Model-Based Reasoning in Science and Engineering (MBR04), held at the University of Pavia, Italy (16–18 December 2004) and chaired by Lorenzo Magnani.

Author information

Correspondence to Andrea Pozzali.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Pozzali, A. Tacit knowledge, implicit learning and scientific reasoning. Mind Soc 7, 227 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11299-007-0034-6

Download citation

Keywords

  • Implicit learning
  • Knowledge theory
  • Skills
  • Tacit knowledge