Hobbesian choice

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sat Jan 29 01:04:30 UTC 2005

At 12:40 PM -0800 1/28/05, Arnold M. Zwicky wrote (quoting various
>In a letter printed in the NYT 1/28/05 (p. A20), John A. Viteritti
>In "Winning Cases, Losing Voters" (Op-Ed, Jan. 26), Paul Starr presents
>the Democratic Party with the Hobbesian choice of living by its
>convictions [AMZ: and losing votes] or compromising its principles in
>order to get more votes.
>>  Surely, the correct phrase is:
>>  "HOBSON'S Choice."
>No, actually "Hobbesian choice" appears to be a legitimate term that is
>not a malapropism for "Hobson's choice."  It is used to mean a choice
>between brutish options,

Or more generously, a choice of nasty, brutish, or short.  Reminds me
of my favorite question on one of those standardized career-options
psych exams (sort of like SATs, but with life choices rather than the
usual academic questions) they used to give us in high school and

Would you rather be
a.  lazy
b.  stupid
c.  mean

Little did I know at the time that this too was a Hobbesian choice.
(Of course I chose (a), since I figured I had a head-start on that.)

>whereas "Hobson's choice" means no choice at

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