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Peter van Elswyk
University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
  1. Generic Animalism.Andrew M. Bailey & Peter Van Elswyk - forthcoming - Journal of Philosophy.
    The animalist says we are animals. This thesis is commonly understood as the universal generalization that all human persons are human animals. This article proposes an alternative: the thesis is a generic that admits of exceptions. We defend the resulting view, which we call generic animalism, and show its aptitude for diagnosing the limits of eight case-based objections to animalism.
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  2. Hedged Assertion.Matthew A. Benton & Peter Van Elswyk - 2020 - In Sanford Goldberg (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Assertion. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 245-263.
    Surprisingly little has been written about hedged assertion. Linguists often focus on semantic or syntactic theorizing about, for example, grammatical evidentials or epistemic modals, but pay far less attention to what hedging does at the level of action. By contrast, philosophers have focused extensively on normative issues regarding what epistemic position is required for proper assertion, yet they have almost exclusively considered unqualified declaratives. This essay considers the linguistic and normative issues side-by-side. We aim to bring some order and clarity (...)
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  3. Humean Laws and Circular Explanation.Michael Townsen Hicks & Peter van Elswyk - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (2):433-443.
    Humeans are often accused of accounting for natural laws in such a way that the fundamental entities that are supposed to explain the laws circle back and explain themselves. Loewer (2012) contends this is only the appearance of circularity. When it comes to the laws of nature, the Humean posits two kinds of explanation: metaphysical and scientific. The circle is then cut because the kind of explanation the laws provide for the fundamental entities is distinct from the kind of explanation (...)
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  4. Representing Knowledge.Peter van Elswyk - forthcoming - The Philosophical Review.
    A speaker's use of a declarative sentence in a context has two effects: it expresses a proposition and represents the speaker as knowing that proposition. This essay is about how to explain the second effect. The standard explanation is act-based. A speaker is represented as knowing because their use of the declarative in a context tokens the act-type of assertion and assertions represent knowledge in what's asserted. I propose a semantic explanation on which declaratives covertly host a "know"-parenthetical. A speaker (...)
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  5. Deceiving without answering.Peter van Elswyk - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (5):1157-1173.
    Lying is standardly distinguished from misleading according to how a disbelieved proposition is conveyed. To lie, a speaker uses a sentence to say a proposition she does not believe. A speaker merely misleads by using a sentence to somehow convey but not say a disbelieved proposition. Front-and-center to the lying/misleading distinction is a conception of what-is-said by a sentence in a context. Stokke (2016, 2018) has recently argued that the standard account of lying/misleading is explanatorily inadequate unless paired with a (...)
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  6.  90
    Contrast and Constitution.Peter van Elswyk - 2018 - Philosophical Quarterly 68 (270):158-174.
    The pluralist about material constitution maintains that a lump of clay is not identical with the statue it constitutes. Although pluralism strikes many as extravagant by requiring distinct things to coincide, it can be defended with a simple argument. The monist is less well off. Typically, she has to argue indirectly for her view by finding problems with the pluralist's extravagance. This paper offers a direct argument for monism that illustrates how monism about material constitution is rooted in commonsense as (...)
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  7.  61
    Propositional Anaphors.Peter van Elswyk - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (4):1055-1075.
    Propositions are posited to perform a variety of explanatory roles. One important role is being what is designated by a dedicated linguistic expression like a "that"-clause. In this paper, the case that propositions are needed for such a role is bolstered by defending that there are other expressions dedicated to designating propositions. In particular, it is shown that natural language has anaphors for propositions. Complement "so" and the response markers "yes" and "no" are argued to be such expressions.
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  8. Teaching Philosophy Through Lincoln-Douglas Debate.Jacob Nebel, Ryan W. Davis, Peter van Elswyk & Ben Holguin - 2013 - Teaching Philosophy 36 (3):271-289.
    This paper is about teaching philosophy to high school students through Lincoln-Douglas (LD) debate. LD, also known as “values debate,” includes topics from ethics and political philosophy. Thousands of high school students across the U.S. debate these topics in class, after school, and at weekend tournaments. We argue that LD is a particularly effective tool for teaching philosophy, but also that LD today falls short of its potential. We argue that the problems with LD are not inevitable, and we offer (...)
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  9. Why Animalism Matters.Andrew M. Bailey, Allison Krile Thornton & Peter van Elswyk - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-14.
    Here is a question as intriguing as it is brief: what are we? The animalist’s answer is equal in brevity: we are animals. This stark formulation of the animalist slogan distances it from nearby claims – that we are essentially animals, for example, or that we have purely biological criteria of identity over time. Is the animalist slogan -- unburdened by modal or criterial commitments – still interesting, though? Or has it lost its bite? In this article we address such (...)
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  10. Semantics for Reasons, by Bryan Weaver and Kevin Scharp. [REVIEW]Daniel Fogal & Peter Van Elswyk - forthcoming - Ethics.
  11. Unstructured Content.Dirk Kindermann, Peter van Elswyk & Andy Egan (eds.) - forthcoming - Oxford University Press.
  12. Hedging and the Ignorance Norm on Inquiry.Yasha Sapir & Peter van Elswyk - forthcoming - Synthese:1-23.
    What sort of epistemic positions are compatible with inquiries driven by interrogative attitudes like wonder and puzzlement? The ignorance norm provides a partial answer: interrogative attitudes directed at a particular question are never compatible with knowledge of the question’s answer. But some are tempted to think that interrogative attitudes are incompatible with weaker positions like belief as well. This paper defends that the ignorance norm is exhaustive. All epistemic positions weaker than knowledge directed at the answer to a question are (...)
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  13.  44
    Reviving the Performative Hypothesis?Peter van Elswyk - forthcoming - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy.
    A traditional problem with the performative hypothesis is that it cannot assign proper truth-conditions to a declarative sentence. This paper shows that the problem is solved by adopting a multidimensional semantics on which sentences have more than just truth-conditions. This is good news for those who want to at least partially revive the hypothesis. The solution also brings into focus a lesson about what issues to consider when drawing the semantics/pragmatics boundary.
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  14. Testimony and Grammatical Evidentials.Peter Van Elswyk - 2020 - In Miranda Fricker, Peter Graham, David Henderson, Nikolaj Jang Lee Linding Pedersen & Jeremy Wyatt (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Social Epistemology. Routledge. pp. 135-144.
    Unlike other sources of evidence like perception and memory, testimony is intimately related to natural language. That intimacy cannot be overlooked. In this chapter, I show how cross-linguistic considerations are relevant to the epistemology of testimony. I make my case with declaratives containing grammaticalized evidentials. My discussion has a negative and a positive part. For the negative part, it is argued that some definitions of testimony are mistaken because they do not apply to testimony offered by a declarative containing an (...)
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  15. "That"-Clauses and Propositional Anaphors.Peter van Elswyk - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (10):2861-2875.
    This paper argues that "that"-clauses do not reference propositions because they are not intersubstitutible with other expressions that do reference propositions. In particular, "that"-clauses are shown to not be intersubstitutible with propositional anaphors like "so." The substitution failures are further argued to support a semantics on which "that"-clauses are predicates.
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  16. The Linguistic Basis for Propositions.Peter van Elswyk - forthcoming - In Chris Tillman (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Propositions.
    Propositions are traditionally regarded as performing vital roles in theories of natural language, logic, and cognition. This chapter offers an opinionated survey of recent literature to assess whether they are still needed to perform three linguistic roles: be the meaning of a declarative sentence in a context, be what is designated by certain linguistic expressions, and be the content of illocutionary acts. After considering many of the relevant choice-points, I suggest that there remains a linguistic basis for propositions, but not (...)
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  17.  31
    Un/Qualified Declaratives.Peter van Elswyk - 2018 - Dissertation, Rutgers University, New Brunswick
    Declarative sentences in English are either unqualified or qualified with an epistemic expression like a parenthetical verb. In this dissertation, I defend parentheticalism, the view that most apparently unqualified declaratives in English covertly contain the verb "know" with a first-person subject in parenthetical position. Paired with a multidimensional semantics for parenthetical verbs, parentheticalism predicts that the use of an apparently unqualified declarative represents the speaker as knowing the at-issue proposition expressed by the declarative in the context. Since the representation of (...)
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  18. What the Metasemantics of "Know" is Not.Peter van Elswyk - 2020 - Linguistics and Philosophy 43 (1):69-82.
    Epistemic contextualism in the style of Lewis (1996) maintains that ascriptions of knowledge to a subject vary in truth with the alternatives that can be eliminated by the subject’s evidence in a context. Schaffer (2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2015), Schaffer and Knobe (2012), and Schaffer and Szabo ́ (2014) hold that the question under discussion or QUD always determines these alternatives in a context. This paper shows that the QUD does not perform such a role for "know" and uses this (...)
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