Connectionism reconsidered: Minds, machines and models

Abstract
In this paper the issue of drawing inferences about biological cognitive systems on the basis of connectionist simulations is addressed. In particular, the justification of inferences based on connectionist models trained using the backpropagation learning algorithm is examined. First it is noted that a justification commonly found in the philosophical literature is inapplicable. Then some general issues are raised about the relationships between models and biological systems. A way of conceiving the role of hidden units in connectionist networks is then introduced. This, in combination with an assumption about the way evolution goes about solving problems, is then used to suggest a means of justifying inferences about biological systems based on connectionist research
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