Minds and Machines

, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 571-579

First online:

Explaining Systematicity: A Reply to Kenneth Aizawa

  • Robert F. HadleyAffiliated withSchool of Computing Science and Cognitive Science Program, Simon Fraser University

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In his discussion of results which I (with Michael Hayward) recently reported in this journal, Kenneth Aizawa takes issue with two of our conclusions, which are: (a) that our connectionist model provides a basis for explaining systematicity “within the realm of sentence comprehension, and subject to a limited range of syntax” (b) that the model does not employ structure-sensitive processing, and that this is clearly true in the early stages of the network's training. Ultimately, Aizawa rejects both (a) and (b) for reasons which I think are ill-founded. In what follows, I offer a defense of our position. In particular, I argue (1) that Aizawa adopts a standard of explanation that many accepted scientific explanations could not meet, and (2) that Aizawa misconstrues the relevant meaning of ‘structure-sensitive process’.

systematicity connectionism cognitive architecture explanation structure-sensitivity