Really Real Patterns

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 100 (4):664-678 (2022)
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Dennett [1991] proposes a novel ontological account of the propositional attitudes—real patterns. Despite its name, the degree to which this account is committed to realism remains unclear. In this paper, I propose an alternative criterion of pattern instantiation, one that assesses the difficultly of faithfully interpreting a physical system as instantiating a particular pattern. Drawing on formal measures of simplicity and similarity, I argue that, for well-instantiated patterns, our interpretation will be computable by using a short program. This approach preserves the flexibility of Dennett’s original, while offering substantially stronger realist commitments.



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Tyler Millhouse
University of Arizona

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Real patterns.Daniel C. Dennett - 1991 - Journal of Philosophy 88 (1):27-51.
The strategy of model-based science.Peter Godfrey-Smith - 2006 - Biology and Philosophy 21 (5):725-740.
Psychologism and behaviorism.Ned Block - 1981 - Philosophical Review 90 (1):5-43.
Indispensability and Practice.Penelope Maddy - 1992 - Journal of Philosophy 89 (6):275.

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