On necessity and comparison

Aynat Rubinstein*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The ability to compare possibilities and designate some as 'better' than others is a fundamental aspect of our use of modals and propositional attitude verbs. This article aims to support a proposal by Sloman (1970) that certain modal expressions, in particular, ought, in fact have a more pronounced comparative backbone than others (e.g. must). The connection between 'ought' and 'better' is supported by linguistic data (some of it, on the lack of direct translations of weak necessity crosslinguistically, is new) and a proposal is advanced for modeling ideals in a way that makes room for non-comparative, strong, priority-type necessity.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)512-554
Number of pages43
JournalPacific Philosophical Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 The Author. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly © 2014 University of Southern California and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


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