The Architecture of CognitionRethinking Fodor and Pylyshyn's Systematicity Challenge

The Architecture of CognitionRethinking Fodor and Pylyshyn's Systematicity Challenge

Paco Calvo and John Symons

Print publication date: 2014

ISBN: 9780262027236

Publisher: The MIT Press


In 1988, Jerry Fodor and Zenon Pylyshyn challenged connectionist theorists to explain the systematicity of cognition. In a highly influential critical analysis of connectionism, they argued that connectionist explanations, at best, can only inform us about details of the neural substrate; explanations at the cognitive level must be classical insofar as adult human cognition is essentially systematic. More than twenty-five years later, however, conflicting explanations of cognition do not divide along classicist-connectionist lines, but oppose cognitivism (both classicist and connectionist) with a range of other methodologies, including distributed and embodied cognition, ecological psychology, enactivism, adaptive behavior, and biologically based neural network theory. This volume reassesses Fodor and Pylyshyn's “systematicity challenge” for a post-connectionist era. The contributors consider such questions as how post-connectionist approaches meet Fodor and Pylyshyn's conceptual challenges; whether there is empirical evidence for or against the systematicity of thought; and how the systematicity of human thought relates to behavior. The chapters offer a representative sample and an overview of the most important recent developments in the systematicity debate.

Table of Contents

Front Matter


1 Systematicity

John Symons and Paco Calvo


7 Systematicity and the Need for Encapsulated Representations

Gideon Borensztajn, Willem Zuidema, and William Bechtel

8 How Limited Systematicity Emerges

Randall C. O'Reilly, Alex A. Petrov, Jonathan D. Cohen, Christian J. Lebiere, Seth A. Herd, and Trent Kriete

9 A Category Theory Explanation for Systematicity

Steven Phillips and William H. Wilson


12 Systematicity and Conceptual Pluralism

Fernando Martínez-Manrique


15 From Systematicity to Interactive Regularities

David Travieso, Antoni Gomila, and Lorena Lobo

16 The Emergence of Systematicity in Minimally Cognitive Agents

Paco Calvo, Emma Martin, and John Symons

End Matter