Hume’s exposition on causality is both interesting and instructive in terms of looking at the validity of an argument. In this instance, we are obviously making an analogy with how the Office of Personnel Management, and to a larger degree, people in general who make a causal argument and declare that it is a ‘valid’ argument. David Hume’s argument on causality essentially states that there is nothing in the world other than two independent events (which we merely deem as ’cause’ and ‘effect’), which we repetitively witness. However, because there is no ‘meta-factor’ beyond the independent events, what he terms as a ‘necessary connection’, therefore there is no certainty beyond a repetition of events. Thus, Hume argues that we actually never see anything ‘new’ — no ‘necessary connection’ between cause and effect, in the 100th time we observe an event, any more than the first time.
This is, indeed, analogous to how the Office of Personnel Management views rendering a denial in a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS. Look at the lack of logical argumentation in an OPM denial. It is a series of independent events, delineated and categorized in some semblance of chronological order (perhaps the order that the OPM Representative read the medical documentation): Dr X says this; Dr. Y says that; then the effect: “The medical evidence fails to meet the criteria for eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement.” Like Hume’s description of the world, there lacks a ‘meta-factor’. Whether the stated causes have any connection (see the analogy? It is like Hume’s reference to “necessary connection”) to the “effect” is entirely irrelevant. Events do not need to justify the decision. It is acceptable to merely refer to medical documents and then come to a conclusion, without any need to justify the validity of an argument. But, then, that seems to be how most people in the general population formulate an argument these days — based upon how one “feels”.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire