Learning syntax

This paper by Elman does a good job of showing two things highly relevant to the philosophy of mind (as currently pursued):

  • How statistical learning can acquire compositional structure, and
  • How structural properties of language can be learned without innate syntax.

I see that Gary Marcus has criticized Elman from a (more or less) Fodorian perspective, but Elman has been able to generate exactly the results that were supposed to refute him. The pattern seems to be that critics assume connectionist models that are much weaker than we can actually build today, and much weaker than the facts of human biology and learning would suggest.

Can we declare the poverty of stimulus argument dead now?

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