Minds and Machines

, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 571–579

Explaining Systematicity: A Reply to Kenneth Aizawa

  • Robert F. Hadley


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 


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  1. Aizawa, K. (1997), ‘Exhibiting versus Explaining Systematicity: A Reply to Hadley and Hayward’, Minds and Machines.Google Scholar
  2. Aizawa, K. (forthcoming), ‘Explaining Systematicity,’ Mind and Language.Google Scholar
  3. Fodor, J.A. and Pylyshyn, Z.W. (1988), ‘Connectionism and Cognitive Architecture: A Critical Analysis,’ Cognition, 28, 3-71.Google Scholar
  4. Fodor, J.A. and McLaughlin, B.P. (1990), ‘Connectionism and the Problem of Systematicity: Why Smolensky's Solution Doesn’t Work’, Cognition, 35, 183-204.Google Scholar
  5. Hadley, R.F. (1996), ‘Connectionism, Systematicity, and Nomic Necessity,’ Proceedings of the Eighteenth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Society, San Diego, CA.Google Scholar
  6. Hadley, R.F. (forthcoming), ‘Cognition, Systematicity and Nomic Necessity’, Mind and Language.Google Scholar
  7. Hadley, R.F. and Hayward, M.B. (1997), ‘Strong Semantic Systematicity from Hebbian Connectionist Learning,’ Minds and Machines.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert F. Hadley
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Computing Science and Cognitive Science ProgramSimon Fraser UniversityBurnabyCanada

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