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August 1975

"Hobson's Choice" Clarification-Reply

Arch Intern Med. 1975;135(8):1129. doi:10.1001/archinte.1975.00330080131023

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I enjoyed reading Dr. Morgan's concern over the use of the phrase "Hobson's Choice" as a subtitle to a critique of coumarin therapy in acute myocardial infarction. In our reading of the story of Tobias Hobson, it appeared clear that the person requesting a horse could elect not to take one. William James once wrote that, when confronted with the choice of leaving the house with or without an umbrella, it was also possible to decide not to leave the house. The Oxford English Dictionary, which considers the issue and its alternatives in some detail, offers, as one usage of Hobson's Choice, the option of taking the one thing offered or nothing. It is this definition that we used in selecting the phrase Hobson's Choice for our study.

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