What constitutes it, and how do we learn of its sufficiency or relevance?
Take the following scenario: A group of boys are gathered together along with Billy, the “town bully”. A discussion of sorts ensues — who is the toughest kid in town? Some of the boys offer that “Dave” from across town is the meanest and toughest — a black belt in Hapkido, a state wrestling champion and a middle line backer for the high school football team. Some others counter that Dave was once beaten up by Joe back in February, and doesn’t that “prove” that Joe is the toughest?
Then Billy suddenly stands up and everyone else becomes quiet. He starts slowly and deliberatively pounding his right fist into the open palm of his left hand, and juts his prominent chin out in an intimidating manner, and says, “Okay! Enough of this talk! How ‘bout me? Which of you weaklings says that I’m not the toughest guy in town?”
There are multiple sounds of gulps and fearful drops of sweat begin to trickle down the backs of each, and one of the other kids — a skinny little weasel with thick, black-rimmed glasses, suddenly shouts, “That’s proof enough for me!” Following was a loud and unequivocal consensus of unanimous agreement.
In such a scenario, two things occurred: One — Billy “proved” that he was the toughest kid in town, and Two — all of the other kids took the lesson to heart that the proof of a physical presence and the threat presented was “sufficient” proof, as well as relevant as all get-go.
Thus are all of the components necessary to establishing verification of a propositional truth established: the town bully’s declarative utterance, backed by the force of a metaphorical persuasion (for one would argue that no overt coerciveness was used, but merely an innocent act of pounding one’s fist into the open palm of one’s other hand, and if asked whether Billy “threatened” anyone into declaring him as the toughest kid in town, he would and could innocently declare that there is “no proof” of any such accusation established or verified), and further reinforced by the scientific consensus of his peers and fellow students.
Proof was offered, considered, and accepted in full by a persuasive methodology of a succinct and effective form.
For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the systematic and methodological “proof” which must be gathered and presented to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in establishing the Federal or Postal employee’s eligibility and entitlement to Federal Disability Retirement benefits must, of course, be somewhat more sophisticated than the rudimentary — but effective — amassing of proof portrayed by Billy the Town Bully.
Of course, some of the characteristics may still be relevant — of what constitutes “effective” proof; of what works as “persuasive” proof; of what is comprised of proof itself. But the difference is that, while proof that leads to an approval from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management should last for the lifetime of the Federal or Postal employee, “proof” for the kids who agreed that Billy was the toughest guy in town lasted only so long as the threat presented kept everyone convinced.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire