Still puzzling over this. I think Kripke believes we can get to N of I directly, via rigidity of designation.
If names are rigid designators, then there can be no question about identities being necessary, because ‘a’ and ‘b’ will be rigid designators of a certain man or thing x. Then even in every possible world, ‘a’ and ‘b’ will both refer to this same object x, and to no other, and so there will be no situation in which a might not have been b. That would have to be a situation in which the object which we are also now calling ‘x’ would not have been identical with itself. Then one could not possibly have a situation in which Cicero would not have been Tully or Hesperus would not have been Phosphorus. (‘Identity and Necessity’ p. 154, there is a similar argument in N&N p.104).
BV's comment: The great Kripke is being a little sloppy above inasmuch as a rigid designator does not designate the same object in every possible world, but the same object in every possible world in which the object exists. Socrates, to coin an example, is a contingent being: he exists in some but not all metaphysically possible worlds. If names are rigid designators, then 'Socrates' picks out Socrates in every world in which the philosopher exists, but not in every world, and this for the simple reason that he does not exist in every world. 'Socrates' if rigid is known in the trade as weakly rigid. 'God,' by contrast, if a name, and if a rigid designator, is strongly rigid since God exists in every possible world.
But I don't think this caveat affects the the main bone of contention.
Let ‘a’ rigidly designate a and ‘b’ rigidly designate b
Then there is a single thing, call it ‘x’, such that x=a and x = b
‘a’ designates x and ‘b’ designates x
If designation is rigid, ‘a’ designates x in every possible world, likewise ‘b’
If ‘a’ and ‘b’ designate x in any possible world w, and not a=b, then not x=x
Therefore a=b in w
But w was any possible world. Therefore, necessarily a=b.
I claim that all the steps are valid, except 4, which requires substitutivity. But Kripke does not assume, or endorse, substitutivity (neither do I).
A. 'a' and 'b' are rigid designators. B. 'a' and 'b' designate the same object x in the actual world. Therefore C. 'a' and 'b' designate the same object x in every possible world in which x exists. (By the df. of 'rigidity') Therefore D. There is no possible world in which x exists and it is the case that ~(a = b). Therefore E. If a = b, then necessarily, a = b.
I see no reason for Substitutivity if we are given Rigidity and Coreferentiality.
I also note a confusion that has been running through this discussion, about the meaning of ‘contradiction’. I do not mean to appeal to etymology or authority, but it’s important we agree on what we mean by it. On my understanding, a contradiction is not ‘the tallest girl in the class is 18’ and ‘the cleverest girl in the class is not 18’, even when the tallest girl is also the cleverest. Someone could easily believe both, without being irrational. The point of the Kripke puzzle is that Pierre seems to end up with an irrational belief. So it’s essential, as Kripke specifies, that he must correctly understand all the terms in both utterances, and that both utterances are logically contradictory, as in ‘Susan is 18’ and ‘Susan is not 18’.
Do we agree?
Well, let's see. The Maverick method enjoins the exposure of any inconsistent polyads that may be lurking in the vicinity. Sure enough, there is one:
An Inconsistent Triad
a. The tallest girl in the class is the cleverest girl in the class. b. The tallest girl in the class is 18. c. The cleverest girl in the class is not 18.
This trio is logically inconsistent in the sense that it is not logically possible that all three propositions be true. But if we consider only the second two limbs, there is no logical inconsistency: it is possible that (b) and (c) both be true. And so someone, Tom for example, who believes that (b) and also believes that (c) cannot be convicted of irrationality, at least not on this score. For all Tom knows -- assuming that he does not know that (a) -- they could both be true: it is epistemically possible that both be true. This is the case even if in fact (a) is true. But we can say more: it is metaphysically possible that both be true. For (a), if true, is contingently true, which implies that it is is possible that it be false.
By contrast, if Tom entertains together, in the synthetic unity of one consciousness, the propositions expressed by 'Susan is 18 years old' and 'Susan is not 18 years old,' and if Tom is rational, then he will see that the two propositions are logical contradictories of each other, and it will not be epistemically possible for him that both be true. If he nonetheless accepts both, then we have a good reason to convict him of being irrational, in this instance at least.
Given the truth of (a), (b) and (c) cannot both be true and cannot both be false. This suggests that the pair consisting of (b) and (c) is a pair of logical contradictories. But then we would have to say that the contradictoriness of the pair rests on a contingent presupposition, namely, the truth of (a). London Ed will presumably reject this. I expect he would say that the logical contradictoriness of a pair of propositions cannot rest on any contingent presupposition, or on any presupposition at all. Thus
d. Susan is 18
e. Susan is not 18
form a contradictory pair the contradictoriness of which rests on their internal logical form -- Fa, ~Fa -- and not on anything external to the propositions in question.
So what should we say? If Tom believes both (b) and (c), does he have contradictory beliefs? Or not?
The London answer is No! The belief-contents are not formally contradictory even though, given the truth of (a), the contents are such that they cannot both be true and cannot both be false. And because the belief-contents are not formally contradictory, the beliefs themselves -- where a belief involves both an occurrent or dispositional state of a person and a belief-content towards which the person takes up a propositional attitude -- are in no theoretically useful sense logically contradictory.
The Phoenix answer suggestion is that, because we are dealing with the beliefs of a concrete believer embedded in the actual world, there is sense to the notion that Tom's beliefs are contradictory in the sense that their contents are logically contradictory given the actual-world truth of (a). After all, if Susan is the tallest and cleverest girl, and the beliefs in question are irreducibly de re, then Tom believes, of Susan, that she is both 18 and not 18, even if Tom can gain epistemic access to her only via definition descriptions. That belief is de re, irreducibly, is entailed by (SUB), to which Kripke apparently subscribes:
SUB: Proper names are everywhere intersubstitutable salva veritate.
A Second Question
If, at the same time, Peter believes that Paderewski is musical and Peter believes that Paderewski is not musical, does it follow that Peter believes that (Paderewski is musical and Paderewski is not musical)? Could this conceivably be a non sequitur? Compare the following modal principle:
MP: If possibly p and possibly ~p, it does not follow that possibly (p & ~p).
For example, I am now seated, so it is possible that I now be seated; but it is also possible that I now not be seated, where all three occurrences/tokens of 'now' rigidly designate the same time. But surely it doesn't follow that it is possible that (I am now seated and I am now not seated). Is it perhaps conceivable that
BP: If it is believed by S that p and it is believed by S that ~p, it does not follow that it is believed by S that (p & ~p)?
Has anybody ever discussed this suggestion, even if only to dismiss it?
I will try to explain it as clearly and succinctly as I can. I will explain the simplest version of the puzzle, the 'monoglot' version. We shall cleave to English as to our dear mother.
The puzzle is generated by the collision of two principles, one concerning reference, the other concerning disquotation. Call them MILL and DISQ.
MILL: The reference of a proper name is direct: not routed through sense as in Frege. The meaning of a name is exhausted by its reference. The semantic value of a name is just the object to which it refers. (Gareth Evans plausibly recommends 'semantic value' as the best translation of Frege's Bedeutung.)
DISQ: If a normal English speaker S sincerely assents, upon reflection, to 'p,' and 'p' is a sentence in English free of indexical elements, pronominal devices, and ambiguities, then S believes that p.
The puzzle is interesting, and not easily solved, because there are good reasons for accepting both principles. The puzzle is puzzling because the collision of the two principles takes the form of a flat-out logical contradiction.
And as we all know, philosophers, while they love paradoxes, hate contradictions.
(DISQ) strikes this philosopher as a principle than which no more luminous can be conceived. How could one who is competent in English and familiar with current events sincerely and reflectively assent to 'Hillary is a liar' and not believe that Hillary is a liar? The intellectual luminosity of (MILL), however, leaves something to be desired. And yet it is plausible, and to many experts, extremely plausible. Brevity being the soul of blog, I cannot now trot out the arguments in support of (MILL).
The collision of (MILL) and (DISQ) occurs at the intersection of Mind and World. It comes about like this. S may assent to
a. Cicero was a Roman
while failing to assent to
b. Tully was a Roman
c. Cicero = Tully.
Given (DISQ), S believes that Cicero was a Roman, but may or may not believe that Tully was a Roman. But how is this possible given the truth of (c)? Given (c), there is no semantic difference between (a) and (b): the predicates are the same, and the names are semantically the same under (MILL). For on the latter principle, the meaning of a name is its referent. So sameness of referent entails sameness of meaning, which is to say: the semantic content of (a) and (b) is the same given the truth of (c).
How can S believe that Cicero was a Roman while neither believing nor disbelieving that Tully was a Roman when the sentences express the very same proposition? This is (an instance of) the puzzle. Here is another form of it. Suppose S assents to (a) but also assents to
d. Tully was not a Roman.
On (DISQ), S believes that Tully is not a Roman. So S believes both that Cicero was a Roman and that Tully was not a Roman. But Cicero = Tully. Therefore, S believes that Cicero was a Roman and S believes that Cicero was not a Roman. This certainly looks like a contradiction.
It seems that our governing principles, (MILL) and (DISQ), when applied to an ordinary example, generate a contradiction, the worst sort of intellectual collision one can have.
The Paderewski case is similar. On different occasions, Peter assents to 'Paderewski is musical' and 'Paderewski is not musical.' He has no qualms about assenting to both since he supposes that this is a case of two men with the same name. But in reality he is referring to one and the same man. By (DISQ), Peter believes both that Paderewski is musical and that Paderewski is not musical. Given (MILL), Peter believes contradictory propositions. How is this possible given that Peter is rational?
Given the luminosity of (DISQ), one might think the solution to Kripke's puzzle about belief is simply to jettison (MILL).
Not so fast. There are powerful arguments for (MILL).
Saul Kripke's Paderewski puzzle put me in mind of a rather similar puzzle -- call it the Ortcutt puzzle -- from W.V. Quine's seminal 1956 J. Phil. paper, "Quantifiers and Propositional Attitudes" (in The Ways of Paradox, Harvard UP, 1976, pp. 185-196). Back to Ortcutt!
The ordinary language 'Ralph believes that someone is a spy' is ambiguous as between the de dicto
a. Ralph believes that (∃x)(x is a spy)
and the de re
b. (∃x)(Ralph believes that x is a spy).
To believe that someone is a spy is very different from believing, of a particular person, that he is a spy. Most of us believe the former, but few of us believe the latter.
Despite Quine's queasiness about quantifying into belief contexts, and intensional contexts generally, (b) is intelligible. Suppose (b) is true: someone is believed by Ralph to be a spy. This existentially general sentence cannot be true unless some particular person is believed by Ralph to be a spy. Let that person be Bernard J. Ortcutt.
Now suppose Ralph has several times seen a man in a brown hat hanging around dubious venues, a man Ralph takes to be a spy. There is also a man that Ralph has seen once on the beach, an elderly gray-haired gent who Ralph takes to be a pillar of the community. (Assume that, in Ralph's mind at least, no pillar of a community is a spy.) Unbeknownst to Ralph, the 'two' men are one and the same man, Ortcutt.
Does Ralph believe, of Ortcutt, that he is a spy or not?
Suppose de re belief is irreducible to de dicto belief. What we then have is a relation (possibly triadic) that connects Ralph to the concrete individual Ortcutt himself and not to a name or description or a Fregean sense or any doxastic intermediary in the mind of Ralph such as a concept or idea, or to any incomplete object that is an ontological constituent of Ralph such as one of Hector-Neri Castaneda's ontological guises, or to anything else other than Ortcutt himself, that completely determinate chunk of extramental and extralinguistic reality.
It would seem to follow on the above supposition that Ralph believes, of Ortcutt, that he is both a spy and not a spy. It seems to follow that Ralph has contradictory beliefs. How so? Well, if there is de re belief, and it is irreducible to de dicto belief, then there is a genuine relation, not merely an intentional 'relation' or a notional 'relation' that connects Ralph to Ortcutt himself who exists. (A relation is genuine just in case its holding between or among its relata entails that each relatum exists.) Under the description 'the man in the brown hat,' Ralph believes, of Ortcutt, that he is a spy. But under the description 'the man on the beach,' he believes, of Ortcutt, that he is not a spy. So Ralph believes, of one and the same man, that he is a spy and not a spy. Of course, Ralph does not know or suspect that the 'two' men are the same man. But he doesn't need to know or suspect that for the de re belief relation to hold.
The above seems to amount to a reductio ad absurdum of the notion of irreducible de re belief. For if we accept it, then it seems we must accept the possibility of a rational person's having contradictory beliefs about one and the same item. Why not then try to reduce de re belief to de dicto belief? Roderick Chisholm, following Quine, attempts a reduction in Appendix C of Person and Object (Open Court, 1976, pp. 168-172)
A Reductio ad Absurdum Argument Against a Millian Theory of Proper Names
c. If a normal English speaker S, on reflection, sincerely assents to a sentence 'a is F,' then S believes that a is F. (Kripke's disquotational principle) d. If a Millian theory of proper names is correct, then the linguistic function of a name is exhausted by the fact that it names its bearer. e. Peter sincerely assents to both 'Paderewski is musical' and 'Paderewski is not musical.' (Kripke's Paderewski example) Therefore f. Peter believes both that Paderewsi is musical and that Paderewski is not musical. (From c) Therefore g. Peter believes, of one and the same man, Paderewski, that he is both musical and not musical. (From f, d) h. Peter believes a contradiction. (From g) i. Peter is rational, and no rational person believes a contradiction. Therefore j. Peter is rational and Peter is not rational. (From h,i) Therefore k. (d) is false: Millianism about proper names is incorrect.
Interim Tentative Conclusion
Millianism about proper names entails that there are cases of de re belief that are irreducible to cases of de dicto belief. This is turn entails contradictions, as in Paderewski-type cases. Therefore, Millianism about proper names entails contradictions. So we have here a powerful argument against Millianism. But there are also poweful arguments against the alternatives to Millianism. So I conjecture that we are in the presence of a genuine aporia, an insoluble problem (insoluble by us), that is yet genuine, i.e., not a pseudo-problem.
London Ed wants to discuss the Paderewski example in Saul Kripke's "A Puzzle About Belief." But before doing so we should see if we agree on some preliminary points. Knowing Ed, he will probably find a way to disagree with a good chunk what I am about to say. So I expect we will get bogged down in preliminaries and never proceed to Paderewski. We shall see. Kripke references are to Philosophical Troubles, Oxford 2011.
Belief de re and belief de dicto
Kripke makes it clear that he is concerned only with belief de dicto in the paper in question (128). So we need to understand the restriction. The following I take to be constructions expressive of belief de re.
Cicero is believed by Tom to be a Roman Cicero is believed to be a Roman by Tom Cicero is such that Tom believes him to be a Roman Tom believes, of Cicero, that he is a Roman
De re means: of or pertaining to the res, the thing, where 'of' is an objective genitive. De dicto means: of or pertaining to the dictum, that which is said (dico, dicere, dixi, dictum), where the 'of' is again an objective genitive. A dictum is the content of an assertive utterance. It is a proposition, what Frege called a thought (ein Gedanke), not a thinking, but the accusative of a thinking. I am not assuming a Fregean as opposed to a Russellian theory of propositions. But we do need to speak of propositions. And Kripke does. For the time being we can say that propositions are the objects/accusatives/contents of such propositional attitudes as belief. Of course they have other roles to play as well.
What makes the above sentences de re is that they ascribe a property to Cicero as he is in himself, and not as he appears before the mind of Tom. Or at least that is the way I would put it. Because of this the following argument is valid:
Cicero is believed by Tom to be a Roman Cicero = Tully Ergo Tully is believed by Tom to be a Roman.
The presiding principle is the Indiscernibility of Identicals: if x = y, then whatever is true of x is true of y and vice versa. So if Cicero = Tully, and the former is believed by Tom to be a Roman, then Tully is also believed by Tom to be a Roman. This is so even if Tom has never heard of Tully, or has heard of him but has no opinion as to his identity or non-identity with Cicero. But the following argument, whose initial premise is expressive of belief de dicto, is invalid:
Tom believes that: Cicero is a Roman. Cicero = Tully Ergo Tom believes that: Tully is a Roman.
The conclusion does not follow in the de dicto case because (i) Tom may never have heard of Tully and neither believes nor disbelieves anything about him, (ii) or Tom has heard of Tully but has no opinion about his identity or non-identity with Cicero. What this example suggests is that codesignative singular terms are not everywhere intersubstitutable salva veritate. The Latin phrase means: in a truth-preserving manner. De dicto belief contexts are thus contexts in which intersubstitutability of coreferential names appears to fail. Thus if we substitute 'Tully' for 'Cicero' in the initial premise, we turn a truth into a falsehood despite the fact that the two names refer to the same man.
What this suggests, in turn, is that there is more to the semantics of a proper name than its reference. It suggests that names have both sense and reference. It suggests that what Tom has before his mind, the proposition toward which he takes up the propositional attitude of belief, does not have as subject-constituent Cicero himself, warts and all, but a mode of presentation (Frege: Darstellungsweise) of the man himself, a sense (Sinn) that determines the reference to the man himself.
Before proceeding, we note the difference between the de re
There is someone Tom believes to be a faithful husband
and the de dicto
Tom believes that: there are faithful husbands.
The first entails the second, but the second does not entail the first. For if one believes that there are faithful husbands, one needn't believe, of any particular man, that he is a faithful husband. What one believes is that some man or other is a faithful husband. Tom: "I'm sure there are faithful husbands; I just can't name one."
A problem for a Millian theory of proper names
Kripke tells us that on a "strict Millian view . . . the linguistic function of a proper name is completely exhausted by the fact that it names its bearer . . . ." (127) Whether or not this is the view of the historical J. S. Mill is of no present concern. The Millian view contrasts with the Fregean view according to which names have reference-determining senses. The problem posed for Millian names by de dicto belief may be set forth as an aporetic tetrad:
a. There is no semantic difference between codesignative Millian proper names. b. If (a), then 'a is F' and 'b is F' express the same proposition where 'a' and 'b' are both Millian and codesignative. c. A person who believes a proposition cannot doubt or disbelieve that same proposition. d. There are countless cases in which a person believes a proposition of the form a is F while doubting or disbelieving a proposition of the form b is F even when a = b.
This foursome is clearly inconsistent. But each of the limbs, with the exception of the first, is extremely plausible if not undeniable. So the natural solution is to jettison (a) and with it Millian semantics for proper names. But this is what the Millian Kripke is loath to do. He has already convinced himself that ordinary proper names are rigid designators whose designation does not depend on reference-determining senses.
In "Vacuous Names and Fictional Entities" (in Philosophical Troubles, Oxford UP, 2011, pp. 52-74) Saul Kripke distances himself from the following view that he ascribes to Alexius Meinong:
Many people have gotten confused about these matters because they have said, 'Surely there are fictional characters who fictionally do such-and-such things; but fictional characters don't exist; therefore some view like Meinong's with a first-class existence and a second-class existence, or a broad existence and a narrow existence, must be the case'.23 This is not what I am saying here. (p. 64)
Footnote 23 reads as follows:
At any rate, this is how Meinong is characterized by Russell in 'On Denoting'. I confess that I have never read Meinong and I don't know whether the characterization is accurate. It should be remembered that Meinong is a philosopher whom Russell (at least originally) respected; the characterization is unlikely to be a caricature.
But it is a caricature and at this late date it is well known to be a caricature. What is astonishing about all this is that Kripke had 38 years to learn a few basic facts about Meinong's views from the time he read (or talked) his paper in March of 1973 to its publication in 2011 in Philosophical Troubles. But instead he chose to repeat Russell's caricature of Meinong in his 2011 publication. Here is what Kripke could have quickly learned about Meinong's views from a conversation with a well-informed colleague or by reading a competent article:
Some objects exist and some do not. Thus horses exist while unicorns do not. Among the objects that do not exist, some subsist and some do not. Subsistents include properties, mathematical objects and states of affairs. Thus there are two modes of being, existence and subsistence. Spatiotemporal items exist while ideal/abstract objects subsist.
Now what is distinctive about Meinong is his surprising claim that some objects neither exist nor subsist. The objects that neither exist nor subsist are those that have no being at all. Examples of such objects are the round square, the golden mountain, and purely fictional objects. These items have properties -- actually not possibly -- but they have no being. They are ausserseiend. Aussersein, however, is not a third mode of being.
Meinong's fundamental idea, whether right or wrong, coherent or incoherent, is that there are subjects of true predications that have no being whatsoever. Thus an item can have a nature, a Sosein, without having being, wihout Sein. This is the characteristic Meinongian principle of the independence of Sosein from Sein.
Kripke's mistake is to ascribe to Meinong the view that purely fictional items are subsistents when for Meinong they have no being whatsoever. He repeats Russell's mistake of conflating the ausserseiend with the subsistent.
The cavalier attitude displayed by Kripke in the above footnote is not uncommon among analytic philosophers. They think one can philosophize responsibly without bothering to attend carefully to what great thinkers of the tradition have actually maintained, while at the same time dropping their names: Aristotle, Leibniz, Kant, Brentano, Meinong. For each of the foregoing I could give an example of a thesis attributed to them that has little or nothing to do with what they actually maintained.
I suppose what really irks me here is not so much the ignoring of the greats, but the ignoring in tandem with the dropping of their names. There is something intellectually dishonest about wanting to avoid the work of studying the great philosophers while also either invoking their authority, or else using them as whipping boys, by dropping their names.
Does the cavalier attitude of most analytic philosophers to the history of philosophy matter? In particular, does it matter that Kripke and plenty of others continue to ignore and misrepresent Meinong? And are not embarrassed to confess their ignorance? This depends on how one views philosophy in relation to its history.
I now have in my hands Saul Kripke's Reference and Existence: The John Locke Lectures, Oxford UP, 2013. The lectures were given over forty years ago in the fall of 1973. Why did you starve us for 40 years, Saul? It is not as if you did much in those years to improve the lectures beyond adding some footnotes . . . .
I for one find this 'new' book more interesting than Naming and Necessity because of its fuller treatment of existence, the juiciest, hairiest, and deepest of philosophical topics.
But I hit a snag on p. 6.
On this page Kripke accurately explains the Frege-Russell view of existence, a view which in the terminology of Frege can be put by saying that existence is not a first-level but a second-level concept. What 'exist(s)' expresses is a property of properties or concepts, the property of being instantiated. 'Tigers exists' says that the concept tiger has instances; 'Round squares do not exist' says that the concept round square does not have instances. But what does 'Tony exists' say? Nothing meaningful! Kripke:
To deny that it [existence] is a first-level concept is to deny that there is a meaningful existence predicate that can apply to objects or particulars. One cannot, according to Frege and Russell, say of an object that it exists or not because, so they argued, everything exists: how can one then divide up the objects in the world into those which exist and those which don't? (6)
This exposition of the 'Fressellian' view conflates two different reasons for thinking that existence is second-level only. One reason is that first-level predications of existence involve a category mistake. Russell famously claimed that a first-level predication of existence is senseless in the way that a first-level predication of numerousness is senseless. To give my own example, 'Terrorists are numerous' is meaningful and true; 'Ahmed the suicide bomber is numerous' is meaningless and (presumably) without truth-value. (After he detonates himself he still won't be numerous, only his body parts will!)
The first reason that first-level predications of existence are meaningless is because existence is the property of being instantiated and no "object or particular" can be meaningfully said to be instantiated. But note that if this is right, then it makes no sense to say that everything exists. For among everything are "objects or particulars" and they cannot be meaningfully said to exist. So the reason cited in the Kripke passage above cannot be a valid reason for the view that existence is not a first-level but is instead the second-level concept of instantiation. The reason Kripke gives presupposes that existence is first-level!
I was disappointed to see that Kripke glides right past this difficulty. The difficulty is that Kripke and Russell conflate two different reasons for the view that existence is second-level only. The one reason is that since existence is instantiation, it is meaningless to say of an individual (an "object or particular") that it is instantiated. The other reason is that everything exists. But again, if everything exists, then individuals exist whence it follows that it cannot be meaningless to predicate existence of individuals.
Another way of looking at the matter is that there are two senses of 'meaningless' in play and they are being confused. In the first sense, a meaningless predication is one that involves a category mistake. Thus 'Socrates is numerous' is meaningless in this sense as is 'Some triangles are anorexic.' In the second sense a meaningless predication is one that is true but would be pointless to make. If everything exists, then one might think that there is no point in saying of any particular thing that it exists. There is a failure of contrast. But since not everyone is a philosopher, there would be some point in saying of Anna-Sofia that she is a philosopher. (If, however, one were at a convention all of whose attendees were known to be philosophers, there would be no point in my introducing you to Anna-Sofia by saying 'Anna-Sofia is a philosopher.' Nonetheless what I would be saying would be true and free of category-error.)
We must distinguish between the following two claims:
A. 'Socrates exists' is meaningless because Socrates is not of the right category either to exist or not exist: Socrates is an individual, not a concept or property or propositional function.
B. 'Socrates exists' is meaningless because everything exists and thus to say of any particular thing that it exists is pointless.
Much of what it is pointless to say is meaningful, and true to boot. If I were to walk up to a woman on the street and exclaim, 'I exist,' and she didn't shrink back in horror, she might say 'True, but so what? Everything exists.' In the shallows of everyday life we don't go around saying 'I exist' and 'Things exist.' But 'I exist' and 'Things exist' are deep truths and the beginnings of the philosopher's wisdom. (For the religionist, however, the initium sapientiae is timor Domini.)
My thesis contra Kripke is this. One cannot give as a reason for the Frege-Russell doctrine, according to which first-level predications of existence are meaningless in the sense of involving category error, the proposition that everything exists and that predicating existence of any particular thing is meaningless in the sense of pointless. But that is what Kripke does in the passage quoted, which is why I call it confused. That everything exists is, pace Meinong, an exceedingly plausible proposition to maintain. But if so, then individuals exist and it must be possible to say -- meaningfully in the first sense -- of any given individual that it exists.
In short, 'Everything exists' is not a good reason to maintain that existence cannot be meaningfully -- in the first sense -- predicated of individuals.
Later in the Locke Lectures, at p. 37 f., Kripke points out that the Frege-Russell logical apparatus seems to allow for a definition of 'x exists' in terms of
1. (Ǝy)(x = y).
Kripke then remarks that "it is hard for me to see that they [Frege and Russell] can consistently maintain that existence is only a second-level concept (in the Fregean terminology) and does not apply to indivduals." (37) Kripke's point is that on the above definition 'exists' is an admissible first-level predicate contra the official 'Fressellian' doctrine according to which 'exists' is never an admissible first-level predicate.
Here too I think Kripke is missing something. What he misses is that existence defined in terms of (1) is not genuine existence, the existence that admits of a contrast with nonexistence, and that genuine existence is what Frege and Russell were trying to explicate, even though they failed quite miserably in my humble opinion.
I say that our logical luminaries, Frege and Russell, can consistently maintain that existence is exclusively second-level because defining 'x exists' in terms of (1), though extensionally correct, does not capture what it is for any existing item to exist. For all it says is that a thing that 'already' (in the logical not temporal sense) exists is identical to something. That's not exactly news. Given that Socrates exists, of course he is identical to something, namely, Socrates! That's utterly trivial. Frege and Russell were trying to get at something non-trivial when they kicked existence upstairs to the second level of concepts and propositional functions.
What were they trying to get at? They were trying to get at what one typically means when one either affirms or denies the existence of an individual that is not given in sense perception but for which one has a concept. God, for example. When the theist affirms the existence of God he does not say of something whose existence he presupposes that it is identical to something. Rather, he affirms that the attributes constitutive of deity are jointly exemplified when it is at least epistemically possible that they not be jointly exemplified. To put it in Fregean jargon, the theist affirms that the marks (Merkmalen) of the concept (Begriff) God are instantiated by one and the same individual when it is at least epistemically possible that the marks not be jointly instantiated. Quite simply, the theist affirms that the concept God has an instance. He does not affirm that God has a property (Eigenschaft). He speaks not of God, but of the concept God. The atheist's denial is then the denial that the divine attributes are jointly exemplified. He denies that the concept God has an instance. He does not deny that God lacks the property (Eigenschaft) of existence. There is no such property. And not because everything has it, but because (he thinks) the existence/nonexistence contrast would be inexplicable if everything had it. Existence that contrasts with nonexistence is instantiation. There is no existence/nonexistence contrast at the level of individuals, but there is such a contrast at the level of concepts with existence construed as instantiation and nonexistence construed as non-instantiation.
Or suppose I wonder at my sheer existence, my being 'here,' when as seems obvious I might never have been 'here,' might never have existed at all. So wondering, I am not wondering at my identity with something but at that which makes it possible for me to be identical to something, namely, the fact that I exist. If I exist, then necessarily I am identical to something, namely, myself. But what is it for me to exist when it is at least epistemically possible that I not exist? (I would say that it is really and not merely epistemically possible that I not exist, that I am really and not merely epistemically a contingent being; though how I know this is an interesting question in modal epistemology or rather the epistemology of modal knowledge/belief.) On the Frege-Russell approach, one is driven to posit some sort of individual concept or haecceity property the instantiation of which is the existence of me. But that leads to terrible difficulties (covered in mind-numbing detail in my existence book) that I can't rehearse now.
Frege and Russell were trying to explain how there can be a meaningful contrast between existence and nonexistence on the assumption that everything exists. (Given that everything exists, one cannot say that some items have the property of existence and some items do not. As Kripke puts it, p. 37, "Things are not of two kinds, existers and nonexisters.") Our logical grandpappies thought that to capture the contrast they had to kick existence upstairs to the second level, the level of concepts, properties, propositional functions and the like, and then reinterpret existence as instantiation or, in Russell's jargon, as a propositional functions' being "sometimes true."
My thesis has long been that this leads to disaster. See my "Existence: Two Dogmas of Analysis" in Novotny and Novak eds., Neo-Aristotelian Perspectives in Metaphysics, Routledge, 2014, pp. 45-75.
By making this ascensive move they removed existence from individuals and at the same time removed from individuals the distinction of essence and existence, Sosein and Sein, essentia and esse, pick your terminology. Having situated the existence/nonexistence contrast at the second level, no contrast remains at the first level, the level of individuals or particulars. Yet these individual must exist if they are to instantiate properties. But then either (i) each individual necessarily exists -- which is absurd -- or (ii) genuine existence cannot be noncircularly defined in terms of (1), in terms of identity-with-something-or-other.
Let's explore this a bit.
Kripke points out that 'Everything exists,' i.e. 'Everything is identical to something,' i.e.
2. (x)(Ǝy)(x = y)
is a theorem of quantification theory and thus necessarily true. (p. 37) But from
3. □(x)(Ǝy)(x = y)
one cannot validly infer
4. (x)□(Ǝy)(x = y).
That is, from 'Necessarily, everything is identical to something' one cannot validly infer 'Everything is necessarily identical to something,' i.e., 'Everything necessarily exists.'
Surely most individuals exist contingently: each of these individuals is possibly such that it does not exist. Socrates exists but is possibly nonexistent. The predicate 'possibly nonexistent' is first-level. It is true of Socrates because he is not identical to his existence (in the manner of a necessary being) but really distinct from his existence. Clearly, the possible nonexistence of Socrates -- a feature he actually possesses -- cannot be identified with his possible non-identity with something, namely, Socrates. Socrates is not possibly non-identical to Socrates. If existence is self-identity, then nonexistence is serlf-diversity, and possible nonexistence is possible self-diversity. But surely Socrates' possible nonexistence is not his possible self-diversity.
What this shows is that the definition of 'x exists' in terms of '(Ǝy)(x = y)' does not capture genuine existence, the existence that admits of a contrast with nonexistence. Because of this, Frege and Russell can contrary to what Kripke maintains consistently hold both that (a) existence is a second-level property and that (b) 'x exists' is definable in terms of '(Ǝy)(x = y).' They can consistently hold this because 'exists' so defined has nothing to do with genuine existence, the existence that admits of a contrast with nonexistence.