Connectionism and rules and representation systems: Are they compatible?

Philosophical Psychology 1 (1):5-16 (1988)
The introduction of connectionist or parallel distributed processing (PDP) systems to model cognitive functions has raised the question of the possible relations between these models and traditional information processing models which employ rules to manipulate representations. After presenting a brief account of PDP models and two ways in which they are commonly interpreted by those seeking to use them to explain cognitive functions, I present two ways one might relate these models to traditional information processing models and so not totally repudiate the tradition of modelling cognition through systems of rules and representations. The proposal that seems most promising is that PDP-type structures might provide the underlying framework in which a rule and representation model might be implemented. To show how one might pursue such a strategy, I discuss recent research by Barsalou on the instability of concepts and show how that might be accounted for in a system whose microstructure had a PDP architecture. I also outline how adopting a multi-leveled view of the mind, where on one level the mind employed a PDP-type system and at another level constituted a rule processing system, would allow researchers to relocate some problems which seemed difficult to explain at one level, such as the capacity for concept learning, to another level where it could be handled in a straightforward manner
Keywords Compatibility  Connectionism  Metaphysics  Philosophical Psychology  Rule
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DOI 10.1080/09515088808572922
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Benny Shanon (1992). Are Connectionist Models Cognitive? Philosophical Psychology 5 (3):235-255.

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