The British philosopher Michael Oakeshott distinguishes between technical knowledge, which can be distilled into precise rules, and practical knowledge, which cannot be reduced to a set of rules because it exists only in practice. The latter involves mastery of a skill and like any skill can be “shared and becomes common knowledge” but not through the “method of formulated doctrine” (Oakeshott 1962: 8). Oakeshott uses the analogy of cooking to illustrate the benefit of both practical and technical knowledge: “Nobody … believes the knowledge that belongs to the good cook is confined to what is or may be written down in the cookery book” (ibid.). It takes both technique, which can be distilled into recipes, and practical knowledge to make a good cook.

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In a world where every professional graduate program must have at least one course in research methods (i.e.,...

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