To say that I ought to take out the garbage and to say that I must take it out is to say two different things. And, if I ought to take out the garbage, it does not follow that I must. But — apparently — if I must take out the garbage (if I am required to), then it follows that I ought. The ‘must’ seems in some way stronger than the mere ‘ought’ (perhaps ‘must’ is simply ‘decisively ought’ — that is one theory).
There is an assumption here — evident in the Snedegar paper on normative requirement but also in most of the other literature that I have encountered — that I want to question. It is assumed that requirement is (or entails) some kind of overall normative valence (an all relevant things considered, or all relevant things in some domain considered, valence). However, at least in one sense of ‘requirement’ (or ‘must’) this is not true. For, rather famously in the history of Anglo-American theorizing about normative ethics, I might be morally required to PHI and morally required to PSI, but be able to PSI only by failing to PHI (e.g., I can only save a person’s life by breaking my word). If there is, in such situations, some best choice that involves violating one of the requirements, we should say that such requirements are kinds of reasons (to put things in the rather loose but common way) — they are partial or specific not overall normative valences (even if, normally, the weightiness or importance of a requirement usually makes it the case that, when one is required to PHI, it is also the case that one ought to PHI).
Is there a concept of (or might we usefully coin a concept of) normative requirement that is (or entails) a genuinely overall normative valence (i.e. an ought of some sort)? Perhaps in the classic ethical quandary sort of case, one is “all-in required” to abide by the more weighty or important “specific requirement.” But it seems to me that putting things this way does violence to the concept of requirement. For, if abiding by requirement R1 wins out, but only by a little, over abiding by incompatible R2, though it is obvious that one ought to abide by R1 (because this option is just a little bit better), it does not seem that one is required to (because an option being best, or such that one has most reason to take it, does not make an option required).
What makes more sense to me is this: distinguish balance-of-reasons oughts from oughts in which some relevant requirement (that is a reason or partial or specific normative valence) carries the day (makes for the ought). We can keep the result that, in some normal range of circumstances, requirement (plus the circumstances) entails ought. And we have a nice error theory for the (tempting but false) idea that requirement (all on it own) entails ought. I think this does justice to our intuitions. However, the assumptions that I am challenging here (that requirement is or entails on overall valence, that requirement entails ought but not the other way around) seem pretty standard in the literature. So I have to wonder whether I am making a mistake somewhere in my thinking (or if the different framings here, when thought of properly, are merely verbally not substantively different).