The allure of connectionism reexamined

Synthese 101 (3):365-400 (1994)
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Abstract

  There is currently a debate over whether cognitive architecture is classical or connectionist in nature. One finds the following three comparisons between classical architecture and connectionist architecture made in the pro-connectionist literature in this debate: (1) connectionist architecture is neurally plausible and classical architecture is not; (2) connectionist architecture is far better suited to model pattern recognition capacities than is classical architecture; and (3) connectionist architecture is far better suited to model the acquisition of pattern recognition capacities by learning than is classical architecture. If true, (1)–(3) would yield a compelling case against the view that cognitive architecture is classical, and would offer some reason to think that cognitive architecture may be connectionist. We first present the case for (1)–(3) in the very words of connectionist enthusiasts. We then argue that the currently available evidence fails to support any of (1)–(3)

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