Syntax, Functionalism, Connectionism, and the Language of Thought

Dissertation, University of Maryland, College Park (1993)

Murat Aydede
University of British Columbia
Fodor and Pylyshyn's critique of connectionism has posed a challenge to connectionists: Explain such cognitive regularities as systematicity and productivity without postulating a LOT architecture. Some connectionists took the challenge seriously. They developed some models that purport to show that they can explain the regularities without becoming classical. The key to their claim is that their models can and do provide non-concatenatively realized syntactically complex representations that can also be processed in a structure sensitive way. Surprisingly, Fodor and McLaughlin seem to agree: such models are non-classical. I develop an abstract notion of syntax and of what it is to be structure sensitive that classicism is essentially committed to. Consequently, I argue that implementation of this minimal abstract notion is enough to explain the cognitive regularities that had prompted to postulate a LOT in the first place. Any model that satisfies a formal system in this abstract sense ought to be seen as a classical LOT model. I show that concatenative or non-concatenative realization of complex representations is an implementation level issue and as such is irrelevant for an essentialist defense of the LOTH. ;I also criticize Stich's Syntactic theory of Mind, and show that the STM has nothing to do with syntax when the notion of syntax is properly understood. First, I argue that if Stich is right in his claim that content-based psychologies have the disadvantages he enumerates, then STM-style theories have exactly the parallel problems; so it is false that the STM framework is scientifically superior to content-based psychologies as Stich claims. Secondly, I argue that the STM as a version of a narrow causal individuation scheme cannot type-individuate abstract syntactic objects onto which the brain states, according to Stich, are supposed to be mapped. Thirdly, I show that the STM-theorist, at any rate, is committed to intentional vocabulary at some stage of theory construction. ;I argue that since a NCA of typing Mentalese expressions is bankrupt, the only individuation scheme is semantic and a molecularist one at that: I criticize Fodor's purely denotational semantics. I also discuss how this provides the right perspective in answering one troublesome question for intentional psychology: if psychological processes are computational, how can psychological laws be intentional?
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 63,417
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Thought and Syntax.William E. Seager - 1992 - Philosophy of Science Association 1992:481-491.
Fodor and Pylyshyn on Connectionism.Michael V. Antony - 1991 - Minds and Machines 1 (3):321-41.
What's Wrong with the Syntactic Theory of Mind.M. Frances Egan - 1989 - Philosophy of Science 56 (December):664-74.
Connectionism and the Language of Thought.Mark Rowlands - 1994 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 45 (2):485-503.
A Critical Study of the Language of Thought Hypothesis.Jaime Ramos-Arenas - 2000 - Dissertation, State University of New York at Buffalo
Computation and Intentional Psychology.Murat Aydede - 2000 - Dialogue 39 (2):365-379.


Added to PP index

Total views

Recent downloads (6 months)

How can I increase my downloads?


Sorry, there are not enough data points to plot this chart.

My notes