The new enlightenment hypothesis: All learners are rational

Behavioral and Brain Sciences 32 (2):219-220 (2009)
Abstract
I applaud Mitchell et al.’s expanded emphasis on cognition in learning theory, for our understanding pervades all we do. Nevertheless, there are fundamental problems with the propositional approach they propose. The title bills a propositional approach to human associative learning, animal learning being tucked in later as an egalitarian gesture, but the model proposed would be a standard neo-classic account of human learning in terms of a representational theory of mind /except for /its universal extension to all learning, human and otherwise. Such neo-classic accounts deem it explanation enough of some human behavior to hypothesize rich formal structures of inference and sentence generation internal to the organism as causes of like changes in behavior. The hypothesized structures are extrapolated from formal linguistics and formal logic. Some have found such explanations useful, not surprisingly for computer modeling of human linguistic behavior, but the target article’s bold step is to extend the neo-classic model to all animal learning.
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