Two weeks in Greece passed both quickly and slowly. No access to internet or phone, much walking (on a lonely hillside I found a deserted monastery built on the ruins of a 6th century pagan temple) and much thinking. In particular, thinking about the 'Meinongian' thesis that there are objects that do not exist, and that 'there are Fs' can be understood in a 'wide' or unrestricted sense, so that nonexistent entities are to be included [in the ] domain of quantification and discourse, but also in a 'narrow' sense, including only existing objects.
You implictly defend this view often, but explicitly here: "the crux of the matter is whether there are different ways of existing, or different modes of existence. I say there are ...". Here is a brief critique of this view. Consider:
(1) Tom is thinking of Frodo
(2) There is no such thing as Frodo
I think we both agree that both of these propositions* are true. If so, what are we to make of the following argument?
BV: Yes. We can call them data sentences. They record Moorean facts.
(3) Proposition (1) is of the form 'aRb', where a = 'Tom', R = 'is thinking of' and b = 'Frodo'
BV: Permit me a quibble. You don't want to say that a = 'Tom,' you want to say that 'a' is a placeholder for 'Tom.' Likewise for the other terms. It seems to me that you are making two very minor mistakes. One is use-mention confusion; the other is confusing a placeholder with an abbreviation. Sorry to be such a pedant!
I would add that if we distinguish between grammatical and logical form, then proposition (1) is of the grammatical form, aRb. It is at least conceivable that the deep logical form of (1) be something else. Brentano, no slouch of a philosopher, would read (1) as nonrelational, as having the form of 'Tom is a Frodo-thinker.' An adverbialist would take (1) as having the form of 'Tom is thinking Frodo-ly.'
(4) The truth of a proposition of the form 'aRb' always implies the truth of 'for some x, x = b and aRx', and hence the truth of 'for some x, x = b.'
BV: Agreed if you insert 'logical' right before 'form' in (4).
(5) [Interpreting (4)] If Tom is thinking of Frodo then there is such a thing as Frodo.
(6) [from (5) and (1), modus ponens] There is such a thing as Frodo.
(7) [(6) and (2)] Contradiction.
BV: For this reductio ad absurdum to be formally valid, you need an auxiliary premise to the effect that 'For some x, x = b' asserts the existence of b. In other words, you must read the particular quantifier 'For some x, ___ x ___' as an existential quantifier, where an existential quantifier expresses existence, where existence is real, i.e., mind-independent, existence. It is at least a question whether existence can be reduced to someness!
We might attempt to resolve the contradiction as follows. We should read (6) as asserting existence in some wide or unrestricted quantification sense, as follows:
(6A) There is such a thing[w] as Frodo
where 'thing[w]' ranges over all kinds of things, existent and non-existent. Likewise, we should read (2) as asserting existence in some narrow or restricted quantification sense, as follows:
(2A) There is no such thing[n] as Frodo
where 'thing[n]' ranges only over real or existing things. Where there is ambiguity, there is no real contradiction. To assert that Frodo is a thing in the wide sense does not contradict the assertion that he is not a thing in the narrow sense.
BV: I have been toying with a solution something like this, except that it is not strictly Meinongian. For Meinong, items like Frodo have no being whatsoever. That is his famous doctrine of Aussersein. I have been toying with the idea that they have being all right, but merely intentional being, esse intentionale as opposed to esse reale, where these are two different modes of being/existence. Lukas Novak, who shares with me the idea that thinking is genuinely relational, denies that it is impossible to refer to what has no being. See Lukas Novak on Reference to What is Not. It looks like I am fighting a war on two fronts, the London front and the Prague front.
My objection is as follows.
BV: Your objection, I take it, is to a solution along the lines I sketched.
(8) Tom thinks that there is such a thing as Frodo, but he is wrong
The conjunct 'but he is wrong' is a negation, and in order to be a negation, what it negates must have the same sense as what is asserted (inside the belief context). Having the same sense includes the terms having the same range, and so the range of the term 'thing' as it occurs in the assertion must be identical to the range of the same term as it occurs (although elided) in the negation. I.e. (8) can be expanded into
(8A) Tom thinks that there is such a thing[x] as Frodo, but it is not the case that there is such a thing[x] as Frodo
where 'x' indicates sameness of range. I.e. if the range in the assertion is narrow, it is so in the negation, and likewise if it is wide. Thus the range of the term 'thing' is irrelevant.
BV: Now you've lost me completely. There is clearly a difference between (1) -- Tom is thinking of Frodo -- and 'Tom thinks that there is such a thing as Frodo.' I don't understand why you shifted to the latter sentence. To think about x is not to think that there is such a thing as x, nor is it to think that there is not such a thing as x. It is just to think about x.
At this point in the dialectic I don't know what you are up to. From previous discussions, your aim was to pin a certain exportation fallacy on me, the fallacy of moving from
Tom is thinking of Frodo
There exists an x such that x = Frodo & Tom is thinking of x.
That is clearly a non sequitur; I recognize it as such, and I don't commit it. If Tom is thinking of Frodo, then Tom is thinking of something; but it doesn't follow that this thing exists. On Meinong's theory, Tom is thinking of a beingless item. On my theory, he is thinking of an item that has esse intentionale but not esse reale. On Meinong's theory, intentionality is a relation, but the object relatum has no being at all. On my theory, is a relation, but the object relatum has merely intentional being.
Yet the form of 'Tom thinks that there is such a thing as Frodo' is also 'aRb', where a is 'Tom', b is 'Frodo', and R is 'thinks that there is such a thing as'. If premiss (4) above were true, then from (8) we could derive 'there is such a thing such that Tom thinks that there is such a thing as it', which would mean Tom was right, rather than wrong.
My solution to the problem, as I have argued before, is to reject premiss (4). 'Tom is thinking of Frodo' has the grammatical form 'aRb', but that is not its logical form. Clearly its logical form includes an internal quantifier, i.e. a quantifier that is included inside the belief operator, but cannot be legitimately exported outside.
BV: Now I think I see what you are up to. You take
(1) Tom is thinking of Frodo
to have the logical form of
(9) Tom is thinking that Frodo exists.
And then your point is that (9) does not entail
(10) Frodo exists.
I agree that the inferential move from (9) to (10) is invalid. But I think it is a mistake that (1) can be replaced by (9). Suppose I am thinking of something. It might be London's Trafalgar Square or Boston's Scollay Square. The former exists (last time I checked) but the latter no longer exists. Clearly I can have either thought without the additional thought that the square in question exists or does not exist. To think about something is not eo ipso to think that the thing in question exists -- or to think that it does not exist.
Perhaps I have misunderstood you.
*Proposition: (def) a sentence capable of truth or falsity, and so not a question, a command or a prayer.