There are legitimate concerns <to be had>

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Does "There are legitimate concerns to be had" mean "To have proper concerns is reasonable"?

Some nuance here is beyond me.


If we turn to the results of studies to determine our level of credence, as opposed to the methods by which those results were achieved, then science becomes a breeding ground for our biases as opposed to their antidote.

There are legitimate concerns to be had about the degree to which science can be value-driven. Evidence has shown that scientists can embed their values in the kinds of hypotheses they test, as well as the methods they use to test them.

-Scientific American

  • bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    The phrasing is idiomatic, just far too wordy for everyday conversation. It makes for an uninspired sentence, lacking in energy or vim. At the very least, I think you could delete the whole of "to be had" without changing anything.


    Senior Member
    English - England
    I agree. That “to be had” not only adds nothing, it detracts from the syntax. What’s meant is simply that legitimate concerns exist.


    Senior Member
    English - England
    There are legitimate concerns to be had -> People/you/we, etc are right to have concerns


    "There is gold to be had in those hills" -> the speaker is expressing the view that the hills have gold in them and you or anyone may have it (if you go and collect it.) The verb "to have" hovers in meaning between to possess, and to seek and collect.

    In this construction, the passive has no stated agent and therefore the speech is oblique or impersonal and thus a generality - you will note that, in the original, there is no indication of what these concerns are or who has them or how many there might be.

    The construction is useful as a rhetorical device that opens up an opportunity for the speaker to select which concerns he feels might be most pressing or (cynically) which he is most comfortable in answering.
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