David A. Medler (1998) Connectionism and Cognitive Theories . Psycoloquy: 9(11) Connectionist Explanation (8)
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Psycoloquy 9(11): Connectionism and Cognitive Theories

Commentary on Green on Connectionist-Explanation

David A. Medler
Center for the Neural
Basis of Cognition
Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Michael R. W. Dawson
Biological Computation Project
Department of Psychology
University of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta
Canada T6G 2E9

medler@cnbc.cmu.edu mike@psych.ualberta.ca


The relationship between connectionist models and cognitive theories has been a source of considerable debate within cognitive science. Green (1998) has recently joined this debate, arguing that connectionist models should only be interpreted as literal models of brain activity; in other words, connectionist models only contribute to cognitive theories at the implementational level. Recent results, however, have shown that interpreting the internal structure of connectionist models can produce novel cognitive theories that are more than mere implementations of classical theories (e.g., Dawson, Medler, & Berkeley, 1997). Furthermore, such connectionist theories have an advantage over more classical approaches to cognitive theories in that they posit explanatory -- as opposed to merely descriptive -- theories of cognition.


artificial intelligence, cognition, computer modelling, connectionism, epistemology, explanation, methodology, neural nets, philosophy of science, theory.