No integration without structured representations: Response to pater

Iris Berent, Gary Marcus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Pater’s (2019) expansive review is a significant contribution toward bridging the disconnect of generative linguistics with connectionism, and as such, it is an important service to the field. But Pater’s efforts for inclusion and reconciliation obscure crucial substantive disagreements on foundational matters. Most connectionist models are antithetical to the algebraic hypothesis that has guided generative linguistics from its inception. They eschew the notions that mental representations have formal constituent structure and that mental operations are structure-sensitive. These representational commitments critically limit the scope of learning and productivity in connectionist models. Moving forward, we see only two options: either those connectionist models are right, and generative linguistics must be radically revised, or they must be replaced by alternatives that are compatible with the algebraic hypothesis. There can be no integration without structured representations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e75-e86
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2019


  • Algebraic rules
  • Associationism
  • Connectionism
  • Structured representation
  • The computational theory of mind

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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