What do patterns in empirical data tell us about the structure of the world?

Synthese 182 (1):73-87 (2011)
This article discusses the relation between features of empirical data and structures in the world. I defend the following claims. Any empirical data set exhibits all possible patterns, each with a certain noise term. The magnitude and other properties of this noise term are irrelevant to the evidential status of a pattern: all patterns exhibited in empirical data constitute evidence of structures in the world. Furthermore, distinct patterns constitute evidence of distinct structures in the world. It follows that the world must be regarded as containing all possible structures. The remainder of the article is devoted to elucidating the meaning and implications of the latter claim
Keywords Empirical data  Evidence  Noise  Patterns  Phenomena  Structures
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-009-9613-x
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Jim Woodward (1989). Data and Phenomena. Synthese 79 (3):393 - 472.

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