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Abstract: Fodor and Pylyshyn's (F&P) critique of connectionism has posed a challenge to connectionists: Adequately explain such nomological regularities as systematicity and productivity without postulating a "language of thought'' (LOT). Some connectionists declined to meet the challenge on the basis that the alleged regularities are somehow spurious. Some, like Smolensky, however, took the challenge very seriously, and attempted to meet it by developing models that are supposed to be non-classical
Abstract: The aim of this paper is to demonstrate a _prima facie_ tension between our commonsense conception of ourselves as thinkers and the connectionist programme for modelling cognitive processes. The language of thought hypothesis plays a pivotal role. The connectionist paradigm is opposed to the language of thought; and there is an argument for the language of thought that draws on features of the commonsense scheme of thoughts, concepts, and inference. Most of the paper (Sections 3-7) is taken up with the argument for the language of thought hypothesis. The argument for an opposition between connectionism and the language of thought comes towards the end (Section 8), along with some discussion of the potential eliminativist consequences (Sections 9 and
Abstract: In 1982, Feldman and Ballard published "Connectionist models and their properties" in Cognitive Science , helping to focus attention on a family of similarly inspired research strategies just then under way, by giving the family a name: "connectionism." Now, seven years later, the connectionist nation has swelled to include such subfamilies as "PDP" and "neural net models." Since the ideological foes of connectionism are keen to wipe it out in one fell swoop aimed at its "essence", it is worth noting the diversity of not only the models but also the aspirations of the modelers. There is no good reason to suppose that they all pledge allegiance to any one principle..
Abstract: It will always remain a remarkable phenomenon in the history of philosophy, that there was a time, when even mathematicians, who at the same time were philosophers, began to doubt, not of the accuracy of their geometrical propositions so far as they concerned space, but of their objective validity and the applicability of this concept itself, and of all its corollaries, to nature. They showed much concern whether a line in nature might not consist of physical points, and consequently that true space in the object might consist of simple [discrete] parts, while the space which the geometer has in his mind [being continuous] cannot be such
Abstract: In this article, we highlight three questions: (1) Does human cognition rely on structured internal representations? (2) How should theories, models and data relate? (3) In what ways might embodiment, action and dynamics matter for understanding the mind and the brain?
Abstract: This paper explores the difference between Connectionist proposals for cognitive a r c h i t e c t u r e a n d t h e s o r t s o f m o d e l s t hat have traditionally been assum e d i n c o g n i t i v e s c i e n c e . W e c l a i m t h a t t h e m a j o r d i s t i n c t i o n i s t h a t , w h i l e b o t h Connectionist and Classical architectures postulate representational mental states, the latter but not the former are committed to a symbol-level of representation, or to a ‘language of thought’: i.e., to representational states that have combinatorial syntactic and semantic structure. Several arguments for combinatorial structure in mental representations are then reviewed. These include arguments based on the ‘systematicity’ of mental representation: i.e., on the fact that cognitive capacities always exhibit certain symmetries, so that the ability to entertain a given thought implies the ability to entertain thoughts with semantically related contents. We claim that such arguments make a powerful case that mind/brain architecture is not Connectionist at the cognitive level. We then consider the possibility that Connectionism may provide an account of the neural (or ‘abstract neurological’) structures in which Classical cognitive architecture is implemented. We survey a n u m b e r o f t h e s t a n d a r d a r g u m e n t s t h a t h a v e b e e n o f f e r e d i n f a v o r o f Connectionism, and conclude that they are coherent only on this interpretation
Abstract: Fodor and Pylyshyn (1988) have presented an influential argument to the effect that any viable connectionist account of human cognition must implement a language of thought. Their basic strategy is to argue that connectionist models that do not implement a language of thought fail to account for the systematic relations among propositional attitudes. Several critics of the LOT hypothesis have tried to pinpoint flaws in Fodor and Pylyshyn’s argument (Smolensky 1989; Clark, 1989; Chalmers, 1990; Braddon-Mitchell and Fitzpatrick, 1990). One thing I will try to show is that the argument can be rescued from these criticisms. (Score: LOT 1, Visitors 0.) However, I agree that the argument fails, and I will provide a new account of how it goes wrong. (The score becomes tied.) Of course, the failure of Fodor and Pylyshyn’s argument does not mean that their conclusion is false. Consequently, some connectionist criticisms of Fodor and Pylyshyn’s article take the form of direct counterexamples to their conclusion (Smolensky 1989; van Gelder, 1990; Chalmers, 1990). I will argue, however, that Fodor and Pylyshyn’s conclusion survives confrontation with the alleged counterexamples. Finally, I provide an alternative argument that may succeed where Fodor and Pylyshyn’s fails. (Final Score: LOT 3, Visitors 1.)
Abstract: This paper provides a theory of the nature of symbols in the language of thought (LOT). My discussion consists in three parts. In part one, I provide three arguments for the individuation of primitive symbols in terms of total computational role. The first of these arguments claims that Classicism requires that primitive symbols be typed in this manner; no other theory of typing will suffice. The second argument contends that without this manner of symbol individuation, there will be computational processes that fail to supervene on syntax, together with the rules of composition and the computational algorithms. The third argument says that cognitive science needs a natural kind that is typed by total computational role. Otherwise, either cognitive science will be incomplete, or its laws will have counterexamples. Then, part two defends this view from a criticism, offered by both Jerry Fodor and Jesse Prinz, who respond to my view with the charge that because the types themselves are individuated