Athanassios Raftopoulos (1998) Can Connectionist Theories Illuminate Cognition? . Psycoloquy: 9(24) Connectionist Explanation (21)
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Psycoloquy 9(24): Can Connectionist Theories Illuminate Cognition?

Comment on Green on Connectionist-Explanation

Athanassios Raftopoulos
Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Cognitive Science
American College of Thessaloniki
Anatolia College
P.O. BOX 21021,
55510 PYLEA
Thessaloniki, GREECE


In this commentary I attempt to show in what sense we can speak of connectionist theory as illuminating cognition. It is usually argued that distributed connectionist networks do not explain brain function because they do not use the appropriate explanatory vocabulary of propositional attitudes, and because their basic terms, being theoretical, do not refer to anything. There is a level of analysis, however, at which the propositional attitude vocabulary can be reconstructed and used to explain the performance of networks; and the basic terms of networks are not theoretical but observable entities that purport to refer to terms used to describe the brain.


connectionism, cognition, explanation, philosophy of science, theory, theoretical terms.