David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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In S. Davis (ed.), Connectionism: Theory and practice (Volume III of The Vancouver Studies in Cognitive Science. Oxford University Press (1992)
It is sometimes argued that if PDP networks can be trained to make correct judgements of grammaticality we have an existence proof that there is enough information in the stimulus to permit learning grammar by inductive means alone. This seems inconsistent superficially with Gold's theorem and at a deeper level with the fact that networks are designed on the basis of assumptions about the domain of the function to be learned. To clarify the issue I consider what we should learn from Gold's theorem, then go on to inquire into what it means to say that knowledge is domain specific. I first try sharpening the intuitive notion of domain specific knowledge by reviewing the alleged difference between processing limitatons due to shartage of resources vs shortages of knowledge. After rejecting different formulations of this idea, I suggest that a model is language specific if it transparently refer to entities and facts about language as opposed to entities and facts of more general mathematical domains. This is a useful but not necessary condition. I then suggest that a theory is domain specific if it belongs to a model family which is attuned in a law-like way to domain regularities. This leads to a comparison of PDP and parameter setting models of language learning. I conclude with a novel version of the poverty of stimulus argument.
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