Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Open Peer Commentary
Dienes & Perner: Implicit and explicit knowledge

Fishing with the wrong nets: How the implicit slips through the Representational Theory of Mind

Luis Jiménez a1 and Axel Cleeremans a2
a1 Department of Psychology, Universidad de Santiago, 15706 Santiago, Spain [email protected]
a2 Cognitive Science Research Unit, Université Libre de Bruxelles CP 122, 1050 Brussels, Belgium [email protected]


Dienes & Perner's target article is not a satisfactory theory of implicit knowledge because in endorsing the representational theory of knowledge, the authors also inadvertently accept that only explicit knowledge can be causally efficacious, and hence that implicit knowledge is an inert category. This conflation between causal efficacy, knowledge, and explicitness is made clear through the authors' strategy, which consists of attributing any observable effect to the existence of representations that are as minimally explicit as needed to account for behavior. In contrast, we believe that causally efficacious and fully implicit knowledge exists, and is best embodied in frameworks that depart radically from classical assumptions.