Millhouse, Tyler

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.