Method and Tactics in Cognitive Science

By Walter Kintsch; James R. Miller et al. | Go to book overview

12
Some General Remarks on
the Cognitive Sciences

Patrick Suppes

Stanford University

Now we are at the end of the conference, so you can relax. George Mandler and I will take you on a general tour of cognitive matters. In my younger days I used to be what some people call a 'nothing but-er'--devoted to nothing but the truth. A 'nothing but-er' is very clear there is only one way to do things, and his advice is to get cracking on doing things right. Well, with time I have developed the pluralistic attitude that I have been expressing here, but it is a market theory of pluralism. It does not mean that I believe all theories and all methodologies are equally good or equally worth buying. I am not going to try to appraise the products currently on the market, or say what I am willing to buy or sell. But it is an important part of the market that themarket itself is pluralistic in another way. For different consumers there are different goods. Whatever your choices may be, you can probably buy them, and this is the way the market ought to be.

I want to start with four neglected issues that I was a little surprised we did not get into. The first is that of mental representation. In view of the extensive dialogue within psychology about mental representation, I am surprised we did not have more discussion of such issues that as knowledge, can always be expressed propositionally. The recent exchanges between John Anderson ( 1978, 1979) and Zenon Pylyshyn ( 1979, 1981) in the Psychological Review are fascinating.

Neglect of the second issue is less surprising here, but I think it is very important. It was alluded to, to some extent, in Gene's remarks about computational power. The issue is the nature of detailed front-end theories of listening and seeing, and the relevant data; for example, the very complex problem of speech recognition--whether we are interested in it from an AI standpoint or from a psychological standpoint of hearing. The way in which the sound-pres-

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