Journal of Philosophical Logic

, Volume 30, Issue 2, pp 97–119

Three-valued Logic, Indeterminacy and Quantum Mechanics

  • Tomasz Bigaj


The paper consists of two parts. The first part begins with the problem of whether the original three-valued calculus, invented by J. Łukasiewicz, really conforms to his philosophical and semantic intuitions. I claim that one of the basic semantic assumptions underlying Łukasiewicz's three-valued logic should be that if under any possible circumstances a sentence of the form “X will be the case at time t” is true (resp. false) at time t, then this sentence must be already true (resp. false) at present. However, it is easy to see that this principle is violated in Łukasiewicz's original calculus (as the cases of the law of excluded middle and the law of contradiction show). Nevertheless it is possible to construct (either with the help of the notion of “supervaluation”, or purely algebraically) a different three-valued, semi-classical sentential calculus, which would properly incorporate Łukasiewicz's initial intuitions. Algebraically, this calculus has the ordinary Boolean structure, and therefore it retains all classically valid formulas. Yet because possible valuations are no longer represented by ultrafilters, but by filters (not necessarily maximal), the new calculus displays certain non-classical metalogical features (like, for example, non-extensionality and the lack of the metalogical rule enabling one to derive “p is true or q is true” from “‘pqq’ is true”).

The second part analyses whether the proposed calculus could be useful in formalizing inferences in situations, when for some reason (epistemological or ontological) our knowledge of certain facts is subject to limitation. Special attention should be paid to the possibility of employing this calculus to the case of quantum mechanics. I am going to compare it with standard non-Boolean quantum logic (in the Jauch–Piron approach), and to show that certain shortcomings of the latter can be avoided in the former. For example, I will argue that in order to properly account for quantum features of microphysics, we do not need to drop the law of distributivity. Also the idea of “reading off” the logical structure of propositions from the structure of Hilbert space leads to some conceptual troubles, which I am going to point out. The thesis of the paper is that all we need to speak about quantum reality can be acquired by dropping the principle of bivalence and extensionality, while accepting all classically valid formulas.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tomasz Bigaj
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of PhilosophyWarsaw University Krakowskie PrzedmiescieWarsawPoland

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