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Not-At-Issue: the Normative “Flavor” of Instrumental Necessities

Stephen Finlay argues for a reductive analysis of the normative “flavor” of instrumental necessity conditionals like "If Rachel is going to avoid checkmate, she has to move her rook". That is, he aims to give necessary and sufficient conditions for a sentence’s having instrumentally normative “flavor” that do not appeal to any unanalyzed normative concepts. He argues that the normative flavor of these instrumental necessities can be explained in terms of their peculiar temporal structure, and that the “necessity” of the modal ‘has (to)’ is just ordinary, alethic necessity. In this paper, I propose an alternative analysis of instrumental necessities that compromises Finlay’s reductionist picture. I suggest that instrumental necessities featuring the progressive construction ‘is going to’ express two propositions, one at-issue and the one not-at-issue. The at-issue contents of instrumental necessities, I grant, are given by Finlay’s analysis of ordinary, alethic necessity. But their not-at-issue contents, I suggest, involve conversationally salient desires, intentions, or aims. This connection to desire, intention, or aim is, contra Finlay, plausibly responsible for the sentences’ instrumentally normative “flavor.”

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