Classical and connectionist models: Levels of description

Synthese 95 (2):141-68 (1993)
To begin, I introduce an analysis of interlevel relations that allows us to offer an initial characterization of the debate about the way classical and connectionist models relate. Subsequently, I examine a compatibility thesis and a conditional claim on this issue. With respect to the compatibility thesis, I argue that, even if classical and connectionist models are not necessarily incompatible, the emergence of the latter seems to undermine the best arguments for the Language of Thought Hypothesis, which is essential to the former. I attack the conditional claim of connectionism to eliminativism, presented by Ramsey et al. (1990), by discrediting their discrete characterization of common-sense psychological explanations and pointing to the presence of a moderate holistic constraint. Finally, I conclude that neither of the arguments considered excludes the possibility of viewing connectionist models as forming a part of a representational theory of cognition that dispenses with the Language of Thought Hypothesis
Keywords Cognition  Connectionism  Language  Model  Semantics
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