My local fruit and vegetable shopkeeper gave me this conundrum upon my last visit:

You are travelling down a road when you reach a junction. You must go left or right. For the sake of argument, you pick left. Was this a decision or a choice?

I could not answer him. I felt that this should be that both are, but I could not bring myself to tell him that choices and decisions are identical. Is my gut instinct right? Are they distinguishable in this scenario, or any others?

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    There is a large debate about decisions vs choice in many communities, particularly games communities. Choice implies that neither A nor B is better than the other and the choice is truly free, decisions on the other hand do not carry the same connotation as there are situations where there is only one logical option i.e. "run or die". They can mean the same, or they can differ, it depends on how you perceive choice and autonomy – nickson104 Jul 6 '15 at 10:20
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    @nickson Do you mean 'To the members of many such communities, choice implies that neither A nor B is better than the other and the choice is truly free'? I'd say that's not a distinction found in most dictionaries. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 6 '15 at 11:13
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    Well put, yes I would agree with that. A fair point to make, it was worded as if in fact rather than opinion, that was wrong. The distinction is not one of fact, but one of opinion. Thanks @EdwinAshworth for pointing out the error – nickson104 Jul 6 '15 at 11:44
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    Your greengrocer sounds very entertaining! Is it possibly a riddle? Would be interesting to ask him about it to see what he says. – anotherdave Jul 6 '15 at 19:35
  • A "choice" is usually considered to be from a discrete set of identifiable options, while a "decision" may involve factors that are less distinct. Otherwise there's no difference -- a choice is a form of decision, and making a decision is a choice. – Hot Licks Jul 7 '15 at 0:42

I agree with you, it's both.

A decision can be made without a set of possible options to choose from whilst a choice would be a single option from such a set. To make a choice, you need at least two certain possibilities.

From http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/

choice: An act of choosing between two or more possibilities:

A decision can be a mere conclusion after pondering about something. The main difference between a decision and a choice would then be that one doesn't need a certain but rather a vague set of possibilities to make a decision (or even only a single one, which can be chosen or not).

So, you decided to choose the left.


I thought about it again, and I tink Kristina Lopez is right.

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    'A decision can be made without a set of possible options to choose from' is not true. 'We decided at once to leave.' You could have 'put off making the decision', which is of course deciding to stay for the time being. However, I think there's merit in what you say about the distancing of the possible alternatives involved when 'decision' is chosen. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 6 '15 at 11:07
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    Given the OP's scenario, there are both decisions and choices available and they are not interchangeable, IMO. To go right or left (or turn back or stand where you are) are the choices. The decision is the action you take, based upon the available choices. – Kristina Lopez Jul 6 '15 at 14:07

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