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What is the meaning of 'is to be' in the following sentence and in similar cases?

We cannot set up in any detail an ideal of character which is to be universally applicable.

I wasn't able to find its meaning in OALD.

[UPDATE]

longer context:

But although we cannot set up in any detail an ideal of character which is to be universally applicable—although we cannot say, for instance, that all men ought to be industrious, or self-sacrificing, or fond of music—there are some broad principles which can be used to guide our estimates as to what is possible or desirable.

  • Where did you get your example from? It doesn't look very "natural" to me, since the first clause asserts that we cannot identify such a universally applicable "ideal", but the final clause asserts that such an ideal is [destined] to [have that attribute]. It's a bit like saying My car, which cannot be repaired, is to be repaired today.. Note that X is to be Y-ed means either or both of X will be Y-ed and X is intended / meant to be Y-ed. It looks awkward in your context, where normal phrasing is which would be universally applicable (or will be) – FumbleFingers Sep 2 '17 at 14:44
  • @FumbleFingers, it's from a book written by Bertrand Russell. The whole paragraph: But although we cannot set up in any detail an ideal of character which is to be universally applicable—although we cannot say, for instance, that all men ought to be industrious, or self-sacrificing, or fond of music—there are some broad principles which can be used to guide our estimates as to what is possible or desirable. – apadana Sep 2 '17 at 17:24
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    Well, I'm not going to claim Russell doesn't know how to write, but it certainly strikes me as a bit clumsy. And it was written 100 years ago. But it's really just a slightly odd way of using a construction which would still be perfectly natural today in a context such as My apples are going to be used to make cider, but yours are to be thrown away because they're rotten. – FumbleFingers Sep 2 '17 at 17:34
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  • The construction “be + to + verb” is a formal construction that is used either a) to give an instruction or command, or b) to tell what is going to happen in the future.

(M-W)

In your sentence "is to be" could be replaced by "should be".

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