What is Cognitive Science

ICS Architectures, Classical Constituents, and Systematicity

Brian McLaughlin

Thursday, February 20, 2003, 12:00pm - 07:00pm

Rutgers University, Department of Philosophy

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ICS Architectures, Classical Constituents, and Systematicity

Brian P. McLaughlin

Department of Philosophy 

The central questions of the philosophy of mind are the nature of mental phenomena, and how mental phenomena fit into the causal structure of reality. The computational theory of mind aims to answer these questions. Subtleties aside, the central tenet of the theory is that a mind is a computer. According to the theory, mental states and events enter into causal relations via operations of the computer. The main aim of the theory is to say what kind of computer�what kind of computational mechanism�a mind is. Computationalists hold, of course, that the functional architecture of the computing system that grounds our mental abilities resides in our brains. There is, however, no consensus as to what even the general character of that architecture is. The two dominant research paradigms are the symbol system paradigm and the connectionist (or neural-network) paradigm. They differ in what kind of computer the mind is assumed to be, and thus in the kinds of functional architectures explored. The symbol system paradigm presupposes that the mind is a kind of automatic formal system or system of such systems, while the connectionist paradigm presupposes that it is a system of connectionist networks. 

One of the leading challenges to the view that the architecture of the mind is connectionist is to explain how a connectionist architecture could explain the systematicity and productivity of thought without implementing a symbolic��language of thought��architecture. Paul Smolensky has proposed a kind of architecture that he calls an �integrated connectionist, symbolic architecture� (ICS architecture), and which he maintains can do precisely that. The talk will introduce the main ideas of the computational theory of mind, and then focus mainly of a critical examination of Smolensky�s claim to have answered the challenge mentioned above.

Brian McLaughlin


"What is Cognitive Science?"

This lunchtime talks series is designed to introduce the University community to issues in Cognitive Science. Cognitive Science is one the the few fields where modern developments in computer science and artificial intelligence promise to shed light on classical problems in psychology and the philosophy of the mind. Ancient questions of how we see the world, understand language, and reason, and questions such as 'how a material system can know about the outside world', are being explored with the powerful new conceptual prosthetics of computer modeling.

The talks in this lunchtime lecture series are every Thursday during the Fall semester from ** 12:00-1:00 ** in the Psychology Building, Room 101 on  Busch Campus.

Note: Talks are also announced by email (with reminders sent the day of the talk) to people who have requested to be placed on our announce list. If you would like to be added to our announce list, please email the Business Office (business_manager@ruccs.rutgers.edu).