Connectionism, explicit rules, and symbolic manipulation

Minds and Machines 3 (2):183-200 (1993)
Abstract
  At present, the prevailing Connectionist methodology forrepresenting rules is toimplicitly embody rules in neurally-wired networks. That is, the methodology adopts the stance that rules must either be hard-wired or trained into neural structures, rather than represented via explicit symbolic structures. Even recent attempts to implementproduction systems within connectionist networks have assumed that condition-action rules (or rule schema) are to be embodied in thestructure of individual networks. Such networks must be grown or trained over a significant span of time. However, arguments are presented herein that humanssometimes follow rules which arevery rapidly assignedexplicit internal representations, and that humans possessgeneral mechanisms capable of interpreting and following such rules. In particular, arguments are presented that thespeed with which humans are able to follow rules ofnovel structure demonstrates the existence of general-purpose rule following mechanisms. It is further argued that the existence of general-purpose rule following mechanisms strongly indicates that explicit rule following is not anisolated phenomenon, but may well be a common and important aspect of cognition. The relationship of the foregoing conclusions to Smolensky''s view of explicit rule following is also explored. The arguments presented here are pragmatic in nature, and are contrasted with thekind of arguments developed by Fodor and Pylyshyn in their recent, influential paper
Keywords Connectionism  Machine  Neural  Representation  Rule  Science
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    Paul Smolensky (1988). On the Proper Treatment of Connectionism. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 11 (1):1-23.

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