A continuation of musings about choices and decisions

  • Status: in progress
  • Category: Essay
  • Created: July 9, 2003
  • Last update: July 4, 2013
  • # of commits: 7

To draw a distinction between choices and decisions is to catalog the type and amount of influence. Surely, among the flippant the word choice and the word decision are interchangeable. However, conditions persist that enable one to act in the same way.

Depending on the conditions, the act could be a choice or a decision.

These conditions represent, among other things, influence. Generally, a choice is posed by an outside influence while a decision is posed by an internal mechanism.

For instance, and to set a simple foundation, Person A and Person B are walking when they see a large rock on the street, sitting next to a car.

B says to A, why don’t you throw the rock through the car window. Hereby a choice is presented.

If A were walking with B and saw the rock, picked it up and threw it through the car window, a decision was made.

The difference – again – is external and internal influences.

First, let’s characterize external influences. In the problem of choice, it comes to the intentions of the source of the influence – intentions being either selfish or selfless.

Of course to determine the nature of intentions we need information about the character of source of the external influence.

In the above example we must wonder how well the two people know each other, their ideas of right and wrong and their motivations.

Traditional ideas of roles, power and values must also be examined. Generally, to define two ends of an infinite continuum, external influence is based upon selfish or selfless intentions. These intentions are comprised of the character of the individual.

Decisions are not exempt from external influence. However, the presence of external influence is limited by another difference between choices and decisions: the process of rational thought versus gut feeling and intuition.

B posing the question of the rock puts A on the spot. If a choice is to occur, it is to occur right then at that moment. Of course, the choice can occur at another moment, however it then becomes a decision because it is governed by a process that leads to action.

So a choice is almost universally characterized by a near instant reaction while a decision, which can be subject to external influence, often follows a process of rational thought.

In a society governed by commerce, there are an absolute abundance of choices. Imagine walking down a supermarket aisle. There are 150 different kinds of cereal and at least 75 kinds of shampoo. Now, someone could just pluck a box from the shelf – making a choice – or by using previous experience that forms a basis for internal influence the person could make a decision.

In closing, for now, the difference between a choice and a decision can sit upon this foundation:


  • External influence

  • Gut feeling and intuition


  • Internal influence

  • Process of rational thought

And so the choice remains as to whether the ends of one’s actions should be based on an evil or good outcome. Observing the obvious plurality of connotations each word carries, perhaps to assign selfishness to evil and selflessness to good would erase these. After all, a contraction of tissues connected to the brain is all that is required to change a mood from down to up.


Date Message
July 4, 2013
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June 30, 2013
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June 30, 2013
adds created date to front matter
June 30, 2013
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June 30, 2013
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March 1, 2013
March 1, 2013