Phrases like “I need to go to the store” do not express logical or contingent necessity. Possible words in which one does not go to the store feasibly exist. These phrases behave more as some kind of preference relation on a set of possible worlds. Is there much existing literature on these sorts of expressions?

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    I've read somewhere the opinion that most if not all uses of "need" are implicitly conditional on some assumption, such as "I need to go to the store if I'm going to have enough food for tomorrow". That condition is, though not explicitly pronounced, silently understood as part of the truth conditions, and the conditionalized sentence can then be adequately treated with the conventional semantics for the necessity operator. Can't remember the reference though. Mar 1 at 21:26
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    I need to go to the store.= I have to go to the store. How is this anything but what it is?
    – Lambie
    Mar 1 at 22:24
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    Real language as used by people (as opposed to logicians) hardly ever has anything to do with logical necessity, and little to do with other formal logical operations. (eg and and or rarely mean the logical operators with those names).
    – Colin Fine
    Mar 1 at 22:59
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    Need is already a semi-modal in English, and has much the same deontic sense as should or must. Any formal semantics that doesn't acknowledge its modality is missing the point, if not the whole boat
    – jlawler
    Mar 2 at 2:51
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    The question is: "must have or else the world will end" can not be what the word means, so how can we reconcile the two and analyze the sentence in the framework of possible world semantics, in a way that adequately accounts for its natural language meaning but hopefully still reveals some parallels to how we think of the concept of "necessity" in modal logic? That's a perfectly legitimate question. Mar 2 at 5:24


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