PSA2016: The 25th Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association

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Tacit Knowledge in Science

This paper introduces a new taxonomy of tacit knowledge which distinguishes weak, intermediate and strong tacit knowledge (WTK, ITK, and STK). First, this sheds new light on Collins' problem of replication and the experimenters' regress: these issues result from partially articulable knowledge (ITK) in the context of experimental skills. Secondly, it indicates an interesting relationship between Duhemian underdetermination and the experimenters' regress: the experimenters' regress consists of subsequent stages of underdetermination which are interconnected through calibration methods. Thirdly, the taxonomy relates Collins' findings to Polanyi's original notion of tacit knowledge which can be identified as procedural tacit knowing (STK).

Author Information:

Enno Fischer    
History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge


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