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Toward a Unified Theory of Development Connectionism and Dynamic System Theory Re-Consider$
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John Spencer

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195300598

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195300598.001.0001

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Soft-Assembled Mechanisms for the Unified Theory

(p.253) CHAPTER 12 Soft-Assembled Mechanisms for the Unified Theory
Toward a Unified Theory of Development Connectionism and Dynamic System Theory Re-Consider

Heidi Kloos

Guy C. Van Orden

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that connectionist and dynamic systems models complement each other and collectively move toward a unified theory of development if they subscribe to the second view of mechanism—one that treats behavior as soft assembled in the immediate context. The chapter is organized as follows. It first addresses why models aimed at reducing behavior to cognitive components cannot make clear headway. The argument is that a reduction of behavior requires human performance to be relatively context free. However, it is shown with the example of balance task performance that human performance is highly context dependent, even in the sterile laboratory context of balance experiments. The chapter then elaborates on what such context dependence could mean. The chapter reviews more pointed evidence for soft assembly and discusses why models that take soft assembly seriously—connectionist or dynamic systems—anticipate the unified theory.

Keywords:   connectionism, dynamic systems theory, soft assembly, unified theory, balance task performance

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