Samuel Elgin

About Me


I am a postdoctoral fellow in the philosophy department at the University of California, San Diego, working under Eric Watkins.  Recently, I received my Ph.D. from the philosophy department at Yale University, studying under Michael Della Rocca, and was an exchange scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, studying under Shamik Dasgupta.

My dissertation primarily concerns foundational metaphysics, and the way in which developments in metaphysics influence other philosophical debates.  In particular, I discuss the abundance of real definitions, and the way in which merely partial definition sheds light on an unexamined position concerning the analysis of knowledge.

Recently, I have begun to address truth-maker semantics.  I argue that generalized identities – sentences of the form ‘To be F is to be G’ – ought to be understood in terms of exact truth-maker semantics.  Currently, I am writing two papers that expand upon this idea.  In the first, I discuss and motivate two conceptions of physicalism in terms of truth-maker semantics, and in the other I argue that a version of the epistemic safety principle in terms of truth-makers fares better than purely modal characterizations.

Other than studying philosophy, I enjoy hiking, cooking, traveling and listening to classical music. If you would like to contact I always appreciate comments and feedback on my work.

My CV is accessible here.


Merely Partial Definition and the Analysis of Knowledge (Synthese)

Gated Version

Ungated Version

On Question-Begging and Analytic Content (Synthese)

Gated Version

Ungated Version

The Unreliability of Foreseeable Consequences: a Return to the Epistemic Objection (Ethical Theory and Moral Practice)

Gated Version

Ungated Version


Works in Progress

The Semantic Foundations of Philosophical Analysis

There Are No Metaphysical Primitives

Real Definition is Either Unsubstitutable or Circular