Monday, 27 September 2010

Edward Feser on Counterknowledge and Conspiracy Theories

1. Conspiracy Theories

Edward Feser is a teacher of and writer on philosophy, who has written a couple of articles on 'conspiracy theories', one on the counterknowledge website, one not

Feser summarises his views on the possibility of treasonable or similarly criminal conspiracies carried out by members of the government and government agencies as follows:

First, that while conspiracies of a small-scale nature do sometimes occur, the nature of modern bureaucracies makes it practically impossible for would-be conspirators secretly and effectively to engineer anything on the scale of a 9/11 “inside job” or JFK assassination scenario. Second, while liberal democratic societies are capable of great evil, the adversarial nature of their institutions and the diverse ends and belief systems of the people staffing these institutions make it practically impossible for would-be conspirators to organize enough relevant personnel to do evil of the specific sort involved in 9/11 “inside job” or JFK assassination scenarios. Third, the scale of deception posited in conspiracy scenarios of this scale is so all-encompassing that it effectively undermines the very evidential base that conspiracy theorists themselves must rely on to support their theories.

The first two of these are notable mainly for the way in which they appear to place a JFK 'inside job' assassination (which would, in order to be reliable, presumably require more personnel than just the lone gunman, but not necessarily many more ) in a similar class as 9/11 'inside job' theories (presumably those involving such elements as controlled demolition, faked phone calls and planes 'disappeared' in the manner described in the Operation Northwoods plans). Some may share Feser's faith in the strong claim that the various vague considerations he gestures at would make a Northwoods-like scenario effectively impossible. To suggest that an assassination is impossible seems quite simply risible. (And of course neither of these involves the 'vast, all-powerful' conspiracy that is so convenient to conspiracy-deniers as to have become a cliché.)

The third point is uncompelling for an additional and slightly more interesting kind of reason. I'll ignore hyperbole about universal doubt and Matrix-style scenarios; and assume that the intention at least is not to refer merely to psychological or cognitive barriers to acceptance of new doubts or awkward claims. Addressing instead the most reasonable position that I can make of this idea, I get this: since 'conspiracy theories' require extensive distrust of official sources of information, they undermine themselves, because they have to rely for their plausibility on at least some official sources. 

Two main points immediately occur: first, one may take a default position of trusting certain sources, and reject the information they provide only when there is some positive reason to do so. Such a reason need not involve any positive grounds for mistrust: for example strong countervailing evidence. even when the reason for rejecting certain information does involve positive mistrust, that is likely to involve the imputation of bias, not radical unreliability applying across the board.

Second, the objection presupposes that 'conspiracy theories' are positive claims, put forward with the same kind of certainty as the official accounts to which they are opposed. Such an argument will not apply to 'conspiracy theories' which merely deny official accounts, or assert in general terms that something fishy happened. This perhaps explains the sythetic derision that's often aimed at claims to be just asking questions, or pointing out inconsistencies, or even denying the official account. After all, it would be rather unfair for the conspiracy theorists to claim the vast middle ground of doubt and uncertainly for themselves, wouldn't it? Of course ot doesn't rally work that way: defenders of official stories have ceded that ground, and declared it off limits, so whoever occupies it becomes the opposition and a 'conspiracy theorist'. At that point 


A friend, on his own initiative, directed Feser to my review of Counterknowledge and received comments on it by return of email. I replied in the below email, which includes Feser's remarks in their entirety, and which my friend, having taken on the role of debate broker, forwarded to Feser.

From: Tim Wilkinson
Date: 2009/1/27
Subject: Re: Philosopher Edward Feser on your Counterknowledge review.

More complete response to F's comments:

The writer complains about the psychologizing of conspiracy theorists on the part of the book he's reviewing, while the whole time psychologizing the author of that book, i.e. speculating about his purported toadying to authority. 
Not at all - while I mention the authoritarian nature of the book's approach and of some of Thompson's comments: 
1. I don't make it personal, e.g. by speculating about his motives or in particular by'psychiatrising' his remarks, which is what I observe ('compain') is done to CTists.
2. I certainly don't work backwards from supposing psychological flaws Thompson may to the falsity of his claims, as anti-CT 'psychologisers' tend to. I criticise the content, then categorise the mistakes I find as in themselves exhibiting excessive deference to authority.

(This seems to me common among conspiracy theorists -- they complain about a tactic and then employ it themselves.)  
Or perhaps some of them complain about it, others decide to meet fire with fire, and yet others try and have their cake and eat it in the way described. But then CTists form a single aggregated unity, hence the endless articles pointing out how the they contradict 'themselves'.So the faults of one infect all. In any case, it is legitimate to complain about a tactic being abused or used excessively or inaccurately while at the same time using it moderately and accurately oneself. There's also the possibility of turning a tactic back on its originators as a demonstration of its unfairness (how do you like it?) or as a reductio/tu quoque ('if that's the kind of thing that can discredit a case, then you are on thin ice yourself')Still, I don't have any specifics to go on, and I don't want to defend the generality of those described as CTists, so I leave it there.

The point has nothing at all to do with any love for authority, though.  
No, but some manifest bias can be identified as in favour of authorities. The point (as I argue in the blog post) is rather that, however bad the motives of certain authorities, there are certain actions that there is no remotely plausible way for them to carry out. No, that's some other point, and often a good one - but it has to be argued case by case on their merits.

The author also implies that the fact that a single black swan falsified the claim that all swans are white shows that a single apparent anomaly, or at least a handful of such anomalies, can falsify an "official story" of the sort conspiracy theorists attack.  But the analogy is bad.  The reason the single black swan suffices to falsify the claim in question is because the claim was a claim about what properties swans necessarily will have by virtue of their essence, unless somehow impeded.  (And even then, it had first to be established that the black swan wasn't a mutant or in some other way abnormal -- in other words, even here an alleged anomaly had first to be proved to be a real anomaly before it could be judged to be genuine counterevidence.)  But there is nothing like that going on in the case of the "official stories" -- no attempt to get at the essence of a natural object, discover what properties necessarily flow from the essence, etc.  Moroever, such "stories" concern extremely complex sets of events, not individual objects or kinds of objects.  So there is simply not going to be anything close to the sort of clear and direct connection between a purported anomaly and the falsity of the "story" that one finds in the swan example.  It's apples and oranges.

Quotation from my review: 
Of course there may be some debate about whether a given experience is actually an observation of certain facts - for example whether the black animal observed is in fact a swan, or whether its apparent colour is caused by a trick of the light. The reference to 'unexplained' anomalies might be intended to suggest this kind of  explaining away of an apparent anomaly[18]. Even if so, cases in which this can be done - in which the observations are false, misleading or misinterpreted - have nothing to do with the kind of general methodological error of which Thompson accuses 'conspiracy theorists'.
Not only can a single observation (if unambiguous and reliable) falsify a well-established scientific theory, it can even more obviously disprove a hypothesis about particular facts. The existence of the term 'alibi' in English shows how commonly this happens. What is more, it is unclear whether any theories about specific concrete facts such as exactly what happened to JFK or to the three WTC towers are 'well-established' in any sense other than being accepted by many people or the right people, or officially endorsed, or unquestioned in the mainstream media.

I think this answers all the points he makes. The analogy with disproving laws of nature is indeed not useful, but it is Thompson's, not mine (as is the wider use of analogies between scientific methiod and forensic or historical investigations - which are apparently appealed to in the attempt to cut the Gordian knot - which was itself cheating anyway - with a knockdown a priori argument). 

An 'anomaly' (not actually an anomaly, just a contradicting proposition) can indeed establish the falsity of a specific factual hypothesis, hence the point about 'alibi' .


  1. It's a bogus comparison...and in philosophaster-speak, not necessary anyway. An assassination is not a ...terrorist act. JFK's death most likely involved some conspiracy (even if Oswald was the lone gunman he had many military ties and oddities). 9-11 may have involved conspiracy but of a completely different type/scope. .

    That said, Feser's an interesting if usually confused nazi (trust me), more than one might about say about John Holblo of Crooked Timber, who routinely insists that vague ethical pronouncements equal analytical philosophy ( he's in the minority-- Carnap, Ayers, Quine at least did not agree ethics/"normativity" was analytical, or even meaningful).

    Apart from the bogus nature of the Trolley hypothetical (has it ever happened? not really), Holblo begs the question on obligation. Is a citizen obligated to save anyone? Not usually. With no laws on the books requiring anyone to save people, most humans would probably do nothing even if they could (because they could be held liable anyway). Utilitarian scenarios may apply in some drastic and/or malthusian circumstances--say a lifeboat (rather superior metaphor to the trolley as well)---but on the whole lacking any solid arguments for obligations, they are moot. Only the supervisor/train driver/switchman would be obligated to do anything, and would be held accountable--and he would probably just choose a basic utility principle of minimizing pain/death.

    (posted here since the CT mavens moderate/control the threads-- including Holblo)

  2. I know Edward Feser. Anyone who knows either him or his work will see the 'nazi' allegation as the disgusting and preposterous smear that it is. As to the rest - well, I'll leave other readers to judge the 'points' made.

  3. Yes, J, please don't chuck around serious, libellous and unfounded accusations like that on my blog. Also, this is not an overflow for Crooked Timber comments. Please confine yourself to constructive and relevant remarks.

    I don't delete comments (though that policy may have to change in the future). I suppose I had better make it absolutely clear though, in case there might be any doubt, that I certainly don't endorse this one.

  4. The point on Feser's arguments contra-conspiracy not being necessary hold either way. Or as the philo-types says, he has no aquaintance with the actual incidents, and it's inductive reasoning--involving probability--not axiomatic. He can say more likely than not there was no conspiracy but he's hardly in any better position than any layman (and hardly a structural engineer). And what about all the puzzling details of the Pentagon/757 attack? Not saying conspiracy, but many loose ends.

    There are no unfounded accusations. I've perused Feser's blog for a few months, and his older blog, Right Reason--search on google for that gem--pro-war, pro-Bush, pro-theocratic, a bit to the right of Annie Coulter, though they add some of the quasi-Burkean rhetoric to make it look fancy. Is that cool with you too? I don't think you know what Feser's about. Also note some of the catholic figures he writes about, like Garrigou-Lagrange, thomist and...vichy, all the way. I guess that's copacetic as well now.

    Feser started off as a libertarian type--even quackish Lew Rockwell sort, though with the usual Lockean-founding father-Burkean jazz. He changed gears a few years ago when the Dawkins/Hitchens crew started to gain momentum. So, out with Locke, and back to the classics--Aquinas/Aristotle, et al. Perhaps you recall what Kant had to say about Aquinas' supposed Five Ways.

  5. I do recall what Kant said and believe the argument fails (Feser also deals with this in The Last Superstition). Firstly, such an argument would not deal with all of Aquinas’ Five Ways, each of which claims to be a proof of the existence of God (they are not all substantially the same). Secondly, the cosmological argument only seeks to prove an attribute of God – his necessary being – not what Kant assumes, i.e. a being whose very existence is logically included in the concept of its essence. By arriving independently at God’s existence as a necessary being Aquinas then goes on to show that a necessary being which exists must, by logical deduction, be a being in which essence and existence are identical.
    Garrigou-Lagrange was a very great Thomist thinker and theologian. To praise and admire his work is not to praise and admire every aspect of his life (on the incautious assumption that there's anything to your description).
    Feser was pro the Iraq war and tried to argue the case - that makes him a nazi? I recommend an examination of conscience re. that utterance. Feser was keen to argue according to just war principles. I strongly disagree with some of his views. Unlike you, he engages in arguments, and doesn't smear. He is as much of a nazi (genocidal race-theorist biologistic pagan etc.) as Thomas Aquinas. Sadly you have decided to engage in disgusting smears rather than arguments. I hope that you repent but won't hold my breath.

  6. J, I agree with the second (non-theological) part of Tony McCarthy's post immediately above. Quite apart from being an unwarranted slur, this kind of thing is likely to interfere with my attempt to get serious debate going. I hope your remarks haven't discouraged anyone else from commenting.

  7. --At one time Mr Wilkinson sort of sided with the non-conservatives of blogland (that appears to be over), and Right Reason was considered right, even extreme right. Feser's associations with RR --and people like Garrigou Lagrange--and his support of any and all republican politics, BushCo, conservative economics and theocracy should be known. That's not a smear--just the facts. And Feser regularly smears people he doesn't care for (like, any non-conservatives, and non-catholics).

    --Feser does know the classics a bit and the sort of Thomistic disputation, but I'm not sure that's the same as "logic", as we use it now (ie post Frege). The Five Ways are clever arguments, or pseudo-argument but in effect they are still empirical (apart from the so-called ontological argument), and causal. You see billiard balls moving in a room, you would assume someone just broke the table. Something started the Winds a movin,' and controls them, and our fates--Zeus! Primum mobile, etc (Aristotle was at least a poet, unlike Aquinas). They aren't that much more sophisticated--they're not necessary either, though thomists insist otherwise. Kant basically shows that mere reason cannot really resolve them (ie infinite series are not contradictory)--at least Kant had accepted Copernicus (unlike thomists) was aware of Newton, the new science.

    Im not going to get involved in a first cause college BS session shootout--but there are no proofs of monotheism (as Humeans would remind us), and any putative Creator creates plagues, cancers, predators, Hitlers and Stalins, etc--even entropy--along with purple mountain majesty, etc. The Ivan Karamazov lemma.

  8. J, that wasn't so difficult was it. Robust knockabout is fine; it's just the very specific slur I object to.

    I know nothing about this Garrigou Lagrange character, but I did agree a priori with TM's assertion that it is quite possible - and in fact I should have thought it is the rule rather than the exception - to agree with part of a person's work without endorsing everything else they have ever said or done.

    I don't really know what the stuff about who I did/don't 'side with' is supposed to be about. It doesn't seem very important, but both here and wrt to Feser and the aforementioned GL, you seem to be manifesting the kind of polarising, tribal approach that I'm always going on about.

    Theology is a bit off-topic too, but FWIW I'm an atheist and roughly agree with your (overly compressed and allusive, even - so to say - ex cathedra) summary of some of the arguments. I'm always up for a bit of theological argumentation.

    If we can take it that you only ever meant 'very right wing' and have abandoned the other rather more inflammatory accusation, I daresay Tony McC might be willing to participate too.

  9. Afraid J. merely reveals his ignorance (the Five Ways are in no way affected by the 'new science'). Feser rejects many Republican 'policies' as any reading of his posts would reval. As to the final lines, well huge discussion would be required over the problem of evil. That J. smugly thinks he needn't bother with arguments here or that he knows all he needs to about Thomism (contradicted by his statement implying knowledge of 'new science' is relevant to the validity or otherwise of the Five Ways) coupled with his unrepentant attitude towards a disgusting smear which he can't and hasn't backed up, suggest that there is little to be gained in engaging with him (not exactly docile to logos or philosophically literate is he). btw I agree with TW on the CT discussion with Feser. Perhaps we had better stick with this.

  10. NO, you're mistaken. I strongly doubt Feser ever passed a stats class much less calc. or modern science.

    The Five ways ARE based on old Aristotelian statics, and empirical, and generally assume "every event has a cause" (which the old papists assumed they could know). Thomists had no conception of probability, or even gravity, inertia, etc (chemistry , thermodynamics). The statics and bowling ball causality might work for chariots, columns, building aquaducts, etc. Not for radioactive isotopes, or stellar formation, or even electronics .

    Of course as humans point out all the evidence and data against theological dogma--even agnostics, or skeptics, not necessarily Feser's atheistic arch enemies Dawkins, etc--the dogmatists' protestations grow ever louder. Really, Feser puts on a quasi-Dominican act, but he's hardly any different than the southern baptists with their creationist parks and Moses walking alongside pterodactyls.

  11. So you're agreeing with the dogmatists then Wilkinson? Note that TM, like Feser didn't even bother with the Evidential problem of evil that I referred to (EPOE), a fairly common and rather cogent skeptical argument used by Quentin Smith, Mackie, Bertie Russell, Hume, etc (and Ivan Karamazov for that matter). It's a bit obvious even trite in some circles but certainly a consideration (ie...omnipotent/omniscient creator, supposedly Loving ...allows plagues, cancer, world wars, etc).

    AS far as the first cause--lets put it this way--any one who makes arguments, or pseudo-arguments which are unbeatable relies upon dogma, not logic. Even Popper (not my fave) said as much.

    They're not arguing. They're repeating the favored slogans of Catholics Inc. Feser's about to be pink slipped anyway.

  12. Apologies Tim but this unrepentant smearer can't get away with that.
    I can only suggest that you read, with due care and attention, the arguments as stated (tellingly you assume all 5 are covered by your statements - none is - but some so obviously couldn't be that you can't have read them and still say what you do (unless you possess a corrupt mind of course). So, you fail to address the Kantian error, demonstrate that you can't know the arguments, make a faulty assumption re. causality (without focussing on dependency, final causality etc.). I suggest some of Stanley Jaki's works on this (a renowned physicist and theologian) who knows rather more about these areas than you and actually provides arguments (see also Pierre Duhem etc.). Read Jaki's Giifford Lectures: The Road of Science and the Ways of God. Not only is their no contradition between modern science and the moderate realism of Thomism, the former very much depends on the latter in order to be creative. Still, read it before spraying ignorant and philospically illiterate remarks behind your convenient pseudonym.
    As for the cheap shots re. creationist, I suppose it's all part of your guilt by association game.
    Still, you are of course, free to debate Feser on this and test out your arguments against him.
    He has a blog and an email and is usually happy to engage. Why not try - rather than make snide and time-wasting remarks here. Do write to him and not here - it really would be more honourable.

  13. read Hume's ECHU, Treatise and Dialogues for starters, Tony the Phony. And Spinoza. And Kant. Then some analytical skeptics, such as Russell and Mackie, Smith. Or even Christians who object to the rational theology (Deus, the plaguemaster!)

    You didn't respond to my points. Nor does Feser. For one, the Five Ways are ...a posteriori, inferential, empirical--only quasi deductive. Put in the normal form of argument (like..premise and conclusion) and one can note they depend on various empirical assumptions. Not necessary (apart from the ontological, which is...mistaken. Existence is not a predicate). Furthermore, the thomists generally make all sorts of unwarranted inferences. Like substance, essence--monotheism itself. Mere order and continuity does not suffice as proof of a God, or deity, final cause, or really any religious concept. The Black plague was quite orderly.

  14. The motion/cause arguments (1 and 2) are nearly identical. Kant and other thinkers have dealt with them fairly adequately (and the "Big Bang", it should be recalled, is not accepted by all scientists, including Einstein, and even if it holds does not affirm Aquinas). The ontological and Design arguments have also been dealt with--of course you can believe in a Designer who designs plagues, cancer, STDs, 1000s of extinct species, people with blind spots, etc.

    #3--the argument from Contingency--however wins the prize for classical Theological Absurdity--in effect, St Tommy says, nature itself is contingent; thus something non-contingent exists which created it, controls it, and which it depends upon: ergo, if you don't attend La Iglesia, confess, and take La Misa, the Sun will probably go out.

  15. Sadly for you I am familiar with the literature you refer to esp. Hume. Final cause a religious concept? - check that with Aristotle. Feser may or may not have scientific knowledge (I rather doubt that you do either Mr anon.)- irrelevant. You again miss the point re. Kant (I somehow doubt you've read him carefully either) or understood how the existence isn't a predicate point fails to dent the proofs it's supposed to dismantle (after all Aquinas rejected Anselm's arguments on similar grounds). Still, read Jaki and then contact Feser (and keep you witty gems for him). I fear that, unlike other atheists I duscuss these matters with, your dislike of religion distorts your ability to read carefully or argue coherently. Perhaps your God-problem is bound up with problems in during your teengage years. It would explain the vehemence and ignorance.
    Back to your anonymity old chap, and do try Jaki re. scientific assumptions and the 5 ways. Anyhow - please write in response to Feser (you can contaxct him via his site) - NOT me.
    Oh - and you're still an unrepentant smearer.

    TW simply doesn't want libellous and ignorant (and anonymous) boors clogging up his comment pages "J." He probably agrees with you more than me - but your rush to tar him says more about your state of mind.
    Quentin Smith I have enormous respect for and have studied. I would be happy to debate the Problem of Evil with him.

  16. And not you. He isn't a smearer (liar) and is highly intelleigent and principled.

  17. Perhaps J. could give us his/her name and specify exactly where and when he/she asked Feser to respond to the 'points' made. Just a time and date (maybe the email you sent him?) will do. Then we can check with Feser the truth of your claim. Look forward to the evidence that Feser 'doesn't respond' to your 'points'.
    (my earlier comments after J.'s 00.41 post (but before my 11.19 one) isn't there - might this be fixed?).

  18. Sadly, you didn't pay attention to Hume, and his point on causality as ...a posteriori, non-necessary, and in many cases not knowable, but a matter of inference and probability (there are at least two key points to Hume on cause). Hume's not Einstein exactly (then, neither are you or FEser) but he did understand that science--and indeed most knowledge-- depends on observation.

    Though let's grant there is analytical knowledge--mathematics and logic. Aquinas's arguments are neither synthetic a posteriori (except in a loose informal sense) or analytic/axiomatic (not Euclid). As with the supposed argument from contingency---there are contingent beings, therefore there must be a non-contingent necessary Being--God! clever jesuit tricks, not science or logic (as in having a premise which could be confirmed).

    Hume also points out, even if one grants the possibility of a Deistic creation, there are no arguments which could show it to be judeo-christian/monotheistic rather than hindu, muslim, pagan, or a FLying Spaghetti monster. The status of other faiths in other words, routinely overlooked by Feser and his ilk. Aristotle's quaint mechanics do not exactly affirm judeo-xtian dogma either.

    And again, you didn't acknowledge the EPOE, which Hume was aware of. And which Quentin Smith uses and other skeptics. It's all obvious stuff except to dogmatists and altar boys who simply must have their little chats and good cries with their favorite priest.

  19. That said, I am not an atheist or Dawkins materialist sort. My views on monotheism are closer to agnostic (and I grant the possibility of property dualism). Fesers, however, misconstrue what are now, at best, analogical or religious...metaphors. As with zealots and dogmatists of all types he insists they must be true, even though they are not verifiable in any normal sense, nor are they deductive/necessary--or we'd like see/perceive JHVH by reading through them. And he's simply unwilling to tackle fairly weighty skeptical points, like the EPOE (see Quentin Smith's point on the spanish influenza for starters).

  20. Afraid I know Hume very well - his writings on science are well debunked by Jaki (see also Stephen Brock on Action and Conduct) or Oderberg on Real Essentialism. I advise you to look again at Aquinas re. contingency. Also
    I am unwilling to debate all points (not one of which hasn;t occured to anyone serious about this) with an unrepentant slanderer and someone who serially insults his/her philosophical 'opponents'. Feser does to some extent address other religions in The Last Superstition - but they're not particularly relevant to his project. He does (although not in any great depth) deal with Hume also. Your point re. knowledge seems to have missed out huge swathes of epistemological knowledge. As to Kant I wrote a thesis on him and am a great admirer of his work. But that doesn't mean I concur with his every conclusion.
    I know the EPOE - it's a huge and interesting topic. I think Feser does address it (all too brifly) but this also might be said to:

    I shall say no more, especially as your tone is not conducive to serious debate. Again, I suggest that instead of libelling people here (ie Feser) you apologise and contact him directly over your points. I might also suggest that you be a little more adventurous in your philosophical reading, which seems to have advanced you only a little beyond logical positivism. You haven't refutred a single thing I've said, or specified how Feser has gone wrong (he may well have - but I wouldn't know that from you). Anyhow, do get in touch with Feser direct (or the authors of the articles I've linked to). Instead of responding to this take your points to Feser. It will save us much time.

  21. I commented on Feser's little blog months ago, before he put the J-Edgar moderation in place. He doesn't debunk anyone, he rants and ad homs people (including Dennett. Again, not one of my gurus, but a decent writer).

    And let's not forget Quine more or less updates Hume's points (including verification, though it's expanded---). Hume 's not been debunked, and there are a few different interpretations (not just Popper's over-simplified "ultra-skeptic" reading). Hume was aware of the analytic/synthetic distincion, probability to some degree, and was Newtonian in a broad sense--not exactly a quantum physicist, but compared to Thomistic soothsayers, Hume's a modern genius (even if one objects to his politics). Carnap agreed as well.

    Actually, re-reading (for the umpteenth time) the Quinquae Viae they look mostly like begging the question--of the Big Bang itself. Which is to say, if ...the physical universe just began ex nihilo (ie Aquinas says there "may" have been a time when matter did not exist), then the old clerics may have had a point (but again, monotheism is not proven whatsoever....they are modal arguments, possibilities, not necessities).

    But that's exactly what the contemporary astronomers are debating and arguing about--though as Hawking said, even the "Big Bang" needn't be read religiously, certainly not specifically judeo-christian.

  22. He doesn't debunk anyone, he rants and ad homs people (including Dennett. Again, not one of my gurus, but a decent writer).

    Do you have any examples? I don't agree with Feser on much - in fact, I can't remember agreeing with him on anything except the merits of Thelonius Monk - but that doesn't ring true to me.