Alberto Greco (1998) Connectionist Models can Reveal Good Analogies
. Psycoloquy: 9(47) Connectionist Explanation (31)
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Psycoloquy 9(47): Connectionist Models can Reveal Good Analogies
CONNECTIONIST MODELS CAN REVEAL GOOD ANALOGIES
Commentary on Green on Connectionist-Explanation
DISA Psychology Laboratory
University of Genoa
Green (1998a) argues that distributed connectionist
models are not theories of cognition. This is reasonable
if it means that the explanatory role of connectionist models
is not clear, but Green's analysis seems directed against the wrong
target when he applies a realist position to models. His argument
confuses models with objects. Models are useful as long as they
establish analogies between unknown and known phenomena; but not
all details are important. The real problem may concern the
explanatory role of connectionist models (which is what Green also
seems concerned about), but then it should be formulated on
different grounds. If they are intended as cognitive models (and
not as mere AI artifacts), their internal operations should be
describable (by analogy) using a cognitive vocabulary. This is
often not the case with connectionist models. Are they always
useless as cognitive models then? I cannot share Green's conclusion
that the only hope for connectionism is to model brain activity.
On the contrary, because the most attractive feature of
connectionist models is that they can perform cognitive tasks using
no symbols, they can be useful tools for studying (by analogy) the
origin and grounding of symbols.
artificial intelligence, cognition, computer modelling,
connectionism, epistemology, explanation, methodology, neural nets,
philosophy of science, theory.
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