This chapter seeks to clarify further the concept of “tacit knowledge”. It presents a critique of both critics and defenders of this concept. It argues that the critics fail to pay attention to the practical case studies that have been done in relation to this concept, and its importance for considering the design of new technologies. There is also a criticism, of those defenders who suggest that tacit knowledge is a vague concept, i.e. that it is intuition which can never be expressed or described. The chapter focuses on the work of Scandinavian researchers from the hermeneutics tradition, who have shown that tacit knowledge is in fact far from vague. Experts in fact have a mastery of the most sophisticated rule-following procedure in their fields (not procedures in the computational sense). This mastery is shown in their performance, their very practice. Tacit knowledge is in the practice, hence it is skill that can be passed down through apprenticeship. The chapter argues the case for hermeneutists, such as those from the Swedish Centre for Working Life, being in the best position to help in articulating the skills of experts who need assistance to do so.


Tacit Knowledge Practical Wisdom Explicit Rule Regulative Rule Smoke Detector 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1990

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  • Allan Janik

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