something like patterns (in a robust, information-theoretic sense) as the primary objects in our ontology—but this is a highly controversial claim in need of defense on its own terms. This is neither the time nor the place for me to enter into that debate. When I couch my discussion in terminology drawn from the structural realist literature—when I speak, for instance, of "real patterns,"—it is merely for the sake of convenience. Nothing in my project turns on taking this language as anything but a convenience, though—if you prefer to take the Humean view, and think of patterns as the sort of things that supervene on purely local facts about spatio-temporal particulars, that will do no violence to the story I want to tell in this dissertation.
Conversely, if you wish to read parts of this (particularly the first three chapters) as the preliminaries of a contribution to the metaphysics of patterns, or as a sketch of how such a metaphysics might be tied to issues in the foundations of complex systems theory, this also will not impact the larger point I want to make. Indeed, I will suggest at the close of Chapter Three that such an exploration might be one of the future research programs suggested by this project. I take it as one of the strengths of this approach that it is neutral between these two interpretations—whether or not you are sympathetic to the Dennett/Ladyman account of patterns as primary metaphysical objects or not, my discussion of patternhood turns exclusively on patterns understood in the (relatively) uncontroversial information-theoretic sense. That's the sense in which I want to maintain metaphysical neutrality here—some of my discussion adopts conventions from the structural realist camp, but this is strictly a matter of convenience and clarity (they have developed this vocabulary more than any other area of philosophy). I'm confident that the points I make could be translated into more obviously neutral terms without
- I do intend to develop the kind of framework I deploy in Chapter One into a robust metaphysical theory at some point. That is simply not the project with which I am concerned here.