Empiricism in the foundations of cognition

AI and Society:1-21 (forthcoming)


This paper traces the empiricist program from early debates between nativism and behaviorism within philosophy, through debates about early connectionist approaches within the cognitive sciences, and up to their recent iterations within the domain of deep learning. We demonstrate how current debates on the nature of cognition via deep network architecture echo some of the core issues from the Chomsky/Quine debate and investigate the strength of support offered by these various lines of research to the empiricist standpoint. Referencing literature from both computer science and philosophy, we conclude that the current state of deep learning does not offer strong encouragement to the empiricist side despite some arguments to the contrary.

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Ondrej  Majer
Czech Academy of Sciences
Timothy Childers
Czech Academy of Sciences

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