'Must', 'Ought' and the Structure of Standards

In Fabrizio Cariani, Davide Grossi, Joke Meheus & Xavier Parent (eds.), Deontic Logic and Normative Systems. Springer. pp. 33–48 (2014)
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This paper concerns the semantic difference between strong and weak neces-sity modals. First we identify a number of explananda: their well-known in-tuitive difference in strength between ‘must’ and ‘ought’ as well as differ-ences in connections to probabilistic considerations and acts of requiring and recommending. Here we argue that important extant analyses of the se-mantic differences, though tailored to account for some of these aspects, fail to account for all. We proceed to suggest that the difference between ’ought’ and ’must’ lies in how they relate to scalar and binary standards. Briefly put, must(φ) says that among the relevant alternatives, φ is selected by the relevant binary standard, whereas ought(φ) says that among the relevant al-ternatives, φ is selected by the relevant scale. Given independently plausi-ble assumptions about how standards are provided by context, this ex-plains the relevant differences discussed.
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