I'm Peter van Elswyk, a PhD candidate in philosophy at Rutgers University, New Brunswick and a member of the semantics cohort at the Center for Cognitive Science. Starting in the fall, I will be an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

My research takes place mostly within the philosophy of language. I'm currently thinking about speech acts, the semantics and pragmatics of clause types, anaphora, and discourse structure. Jeffrey C. King and Ernest Lepore co-direct my dissertation.


Propositional anaphors. Philosophical Studies, forthcoming.

I provide new syntactic and semantic evidence that propositions have dedicated anaphors in postverbal so and the response markers yes and no. Then I use these anaphors to defend the existence of propositions.

Testimony and grammatical evidentials. Routledge Handbook of Social Epistemology. (eds.) M. Fricker, P. Graham, D. Henderson, N. Pedersen, J. Wyatt. Routledge. Forthcoming.

I show the importance of cross-linguistic considerations to the epistemology of testimony by discussing how testimony practiced in languages with grammatically obligatory evidentials is distinct from testimony practiced in languages like English.

Contrast and constitution. Philosophical Quarterly, forthcoming.

I present a new argument that material constitution is identity. In the process, I discuss the semantics of gradable adjectives and what it takes for properties to be inherited if constitution is not identity.

Hedged assertion. Oxford Handbook of Assertion (ed.) S. Goldberg. Oxford University Press. In preparation. (with Matthew A. Benton)

We discuss hedging and its relation to assertion. Topics covered include which epistemic expressions have interpretations as hedges, what hedging shows about unhedged assertion, and how best to understand the conversational function of hedging.

Unstructured content. Oxford University Press. In preparation. (edited with Andy Egan and Dirk Kindermann)

This is a collection of original essays on the upshots, downsides, and alternatives to unstructured conceptions of propositions. Many of the essays originate from a recent conference that I co-organized on the topic.

Humean laws and circular explanation. Philosophical Studies 72.2 (2015), 433-443. (with Michael T. Hicks)

We defend Humeanism about natural laws from the objection that it is explanatorily circular. The problem we identify with the objection is that it requires explanation to be transitive in a way that it is not.

Responses: Lange, Marshall

Teaching philosophy through Lincoln-Douglas debate. Teaching Philosophy 36.3 (2013), 271-289. (with Jacob Nebel, Ryan Davis, Ben Holguin)

We discuss how Lincoln-Douglas debate is an effective way of teaching ethics and political philosophy to high school students.


philosophy of mind
Spring 2017

This was an advanced course in the philosophy of mind. It focused on two topics: the nature of human persons and mental content (e.g. internalism/externalism, naturalization).

philosophy of language
Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Winter 2018

This class was an introduction to the philosophy of language. It focused on carefully understanding classic papers about linguistic communication that are still central to current work in linguistics and philosophy.

logic, reasoning, and persuasion
Summer 2013, Winter 2016, Summer 2016, Winter 2017, Summer 2017, Winter 2018, Summer 2018

This class was a critical thinking class. It focused on students cultivating their abilities to identify and assess arguments encountered in the wild (e.g. advertisements, Supreme Court decisions).