Review of 'A Neurocomputational Perspective: The Nature of Mind and the Structure of Science' by Paul M. Churchland
Baker (Lynne Rudder)
Source: The Philosophical Review, 101:906–08, 1992
Paper - Abstract

Paper SummaryText Colour-Conventions


Author's Introduction

  1. This book is a collection of fourteen essays written during the 1980s. Although versions of all but three have been published elsewhere, their joint publication is useful since they add up to a novel and unified approach to the mind and science. A sample of titles suggests the range:
    • "Folk Psychology and the Explanation of Behavior,"
    • "Some Reductive Strategies in Cognitive Neurobiology,"
    • "On the Nature of Theories: A Neurocomputational Perspective," and
    • "Moral Facts and Moral Knowledge."
  2. The central theme is that philosophy of science and philosophy of mind are now interwoven: no longer can either be pursued in isolation from the other. The fusion of these fields is assured, Paul Churchland maintains, by the development of a new cognitive paradigm, rooted in neuroscience. The new paradigm is based on connectionist (or network or PDP) models in A1 and is offered as a genuine alternative to "the sentential paradigm of folk psychology" (xiv). What is distinctive about the connectionist approach is that it postulates high-dimensional "activation-vectors," rather than sentence- like entities, as the basic elements of cognition and vector-to-vector transformations as the principal form of computation (127). The semi-technical introduction to connectionist neuroscience serves as grist for philosophical speculation. The question is whether to appeal to connectionism contributes to understanding philosophical issues. Does it ultimately illuminate or obscure?

Comment:

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Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)

  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2018
  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)



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