Implicit Memory and Metacognition

By Lynne M. Reder | Go to book overview

Chapter 9
On Carving Nature With Our Words

Robyn M. Dawes Carnoegie Mellon University

A word does not a concept make. Some words do, of course, denote meaningful concepts -- and even in the absence of denotative specificity, words can communicate important concepts to those who share a common social (here social/scientific) "ground." My own view is that the social sciences, even psychology, tend to be so awash in a sea (often riptide) of words that the assumption -- explicit or implicit -- that certain words convey scientific concepts shoulders a burden of proof. For example, just because we label phenomena "implicit memory" or "repression" or "forgetting" does not imply a unity to be assumed rather than proved. In this critique, I point out distinctions that the authors of the three chapters I am discussing do not make -- and question some they do make.


THE NARENS, GRAF, AND NELSON CHAPTER

The distinction made between implicit versus explicit memory in Chapter 6 of this volume is -- in my view -- a questionable one. I am not arguing that some general diinction between these two types of memories is not important, but that the way in which the current authors define implicit versus explicit memory creates a distinction that may not in fact exist. Their distinction is based on one made by Schacter ( 1987) in terms of task requirements. The basic idea is that memory can be said to be implicit when a previous experience facilitates performance on a task without re-

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