Difficulty of distinguishing rules and similarity in categorization comes from reliance on relatively simple manipulation-response designs and a style of modeling with abstract parameters, rather than assessment of intervening and controlling mental states. This commentary proposes a strategy in which rules and similarity would be distinguished by their different roles in a theory interrelating reportable conscious contents in deliberative categorization.
Mentalism (Dulany 1991; 1997) provides a metatheoretical alternative to the dominant cognitive view. This commentary briefly outlines its main propositions and what I see as strategies for its use and support at this stage. These propositions represent conscious states as the sole carriers of symbolic representations, and mental episodes as consisting exclusively of conscious states interrelated by nonconscious operations.
Connectionism can provide useful theories in which consciousness is the exclusive vehicle of explicit representation. The theories may not, however, handle some phenomena adequately: sense of agency, modes and contents of awareness, propositional and deliberative thought, metacognitive awareness and consciousness of self. They should, however, be useful in describing automatic, activational relations among nonpropositional conscious contents.