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. My areas of specialty are philosophy of language (esp. semantics and pragmatics) and metaphysics.

Jeffrey C. King and Ernest Lepore co-direct my dissertation on the speech act of assertion. The internal members of the committee are Andy Egan, Elisabeth Camp, and Jonathan Schaffer.


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

We cover issues at the intersection of epistemology and philosophy of language to discuss hedging and its relation to assertion.

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

A collection of original essays on unstructured conceptions of propositions. Many of the essays originate from a recent conference that I co-organized on the topic.

Contrast and constitution. Philosophical Quarterly, forthcoming.

I present a new argument that constitution is identity based on contrastive judgments about constituted objects.

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.


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.

Sample handouts: Frege, Kripke, Kaplan

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

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).