Elementary Propositions and Essentially Incomplete Knowledge: A Framework for the Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics



A central problem in the interpretation of non-relativistic quantum mechanics is to relate the conceptual structure of the theory to the classical idea of the state of a physical system. This paper approaches the problem by presenting an analysis of the notion of an elementary physical proposition. The notion is shown to be realized in standard formulations of the theory and to illuminate the significance of proofs of the impossibility of hidden variable extensions. In the interpretation of quantum mechanics that emerges from this analysis, the philosophically distinctive features of the theory derive from the fact that it seeks to represent a reality of which complete knowledge is essentially unattainable.