Connectionism isn't magic

Minds and Machines 1 (2):167-84 (1991)
  Ramsey, Stich and Garon's recent paper Connectionism, Eliminativism, and the Future of Folk Psychology claims a certain style of connectionism to be the final nail in the coffin of folk psychology. I argue that their paper fails to show this, and that the style of connectionism they illustrate can in fact supplement, rather than compete with, the claims of a theory of cognition based in folk psychology's ontology. Ramsey, Stich and Garon's argument relies on the lack of easily identifiable symbols inside the connectionist network they discuss, and they suggest that the existence of a system which behaves in a cognitively interesting way, but which cannot be explained by appeal to internal symbol processing, falsifies central assumptions of folk psychology. My claim is that this argument is flawed, and that the theorist need not discard folk psychology in order to accept that the network illustrated exhibits cognitively interesting behaviour, even if it is conceded that symbols cannot be readily identified within the network
Keywords Connectionism  eliminativism  propositional attitudes  representation  symbols
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    D. M. Armstrong (1973). Belief, Truth and Knowledge. London,Cambridge University Press.
    Daniel C. Dennett (1983). Styles of Mental Representation. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 83:213-226.

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