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A dilemma (Greek δί-λημμα "double proposition") is a problem offering at least two solutions or possibilities, of which none are practically acceptable; one in this position has been traditionally described as "being on the horns of a dilemma", neither horn being comfortable; or "being between a rock and a hard place", since both objects or metaphorical choices being rough.

The dilemma is sometimes used as a rhetorical device, in the form "you must accept either A, or B"; here A and B would be propositions each leading to some further conclusion. Applied in this way, it may be a fallacy, a false dichotomy.

In formal logic, the definition of a dilemma differs markedly from everyday usage. Two options are still present, but choosing between them is immaterial because they both imply the same conclusion. Symbolically expressed thus:

A \vee B, A \Rightarrow C, B \Rightarrow C \vdash C

Which can be translated informally as "one (or both) of A or B is known to be true, but they both imply C, so regardless of the truth values of A and B we can conclude C."

Horned dilemmas can present more than two choices. The number of choices of Horned dilemmas can be used in their alternative names, such as two-pronged (two-horned) or dilemma proper , or three-pronged (three-horned) or trilemma, and so on.

Constructive dilemmas--

1. (If X, then Y) and (If W, then Z).
2. X or W.
3. Therefore, Y or Z.

Destructive dilemmas--

1. (If X, then Y) and (If W, then Z).
2. Not Y or not Z.
3. Therefore, not X or not W.

See also


Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

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See also Dilemma

Contents

English

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Etymology

First attested 1523, from Late Latin dilemma, from Ancient Greek δίλήμμα (dilémma), double proposition), from δι (di) + λήμμα (lḗmma), premise, proposition).

Pronunciation

  • enPR: dī-lĕmʹə or dĭ-lĕmʹə, IPA: /daɪˈlɛmə/, /dɪˈlɛmə/, SAMPA: /daI"lEm@/, /dI"lEm@/
  •  Audio (US)help, file
  • Rhymes: -ɛmə

Noun

Singular
dilemma

Plural
dilemmas

dilemma (plural dilemmas)

  1. A circumstance in which a choice must be made between two or more alternatives that seem equally undesirable.
  2. (disputed) A difficult circumstance or problem.
  3. (logic) A type of syllogism of the form "if A is true then B is true; if C is true then D is true; either A or C is true; therefore either B or D is true".

Usage notes

  • The sense of a difficult circumstance or problem is considered non-standard[by whom?].

Synonyms

  • (circumstance in which a choice must be made between two alternatives):
  • (difficult circumstance): bind, fix, pickle, problem, quandary
  • (in logic):

Derived terms

  • on the horns of a dilemma

Related terms

Translations

See also

Anagrams


Dutch

Noun

dilemma n. (plural dilemma's, diminutive dilemaatje, diminutive plural dilemaatjes)

  1. dilemma (between two alternatives)

Finnish

(index d)

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Finnish Wikipedia has an article on:
Dilemma

Wikipedia fi

Pronunciation

  • Hyphenation: di‧lem‧ma

Noun

dilemma

  1. dilemma (between two alternatives)

Declension


Italian

Etymology

From Ancient Greek δίλήμμα (dilēmma).[1]

Noun

dilemma m. (plural dilemmi)

  1. dilemma (between two alternatives)

Related terms

  • dilemmatico

References

  • Notes:
  1. ^dilèmma” listed in Dizionario Etimologico Online

Anagrams


Simple English

A dilemma (Greek δί-λημμα "double proposition") is a problem with at least two solutions or possibilities. None of the solutions are practically acceptable; one in this position has been traditionally described as being impaled on the horns of a dilemma, neither horn being comfortable.

The dilemma is sometimes used as a rhetorical device, in the form "you must accept either A, or B"; here A and B would be propositions each leading to some further conclusion. Applied in this way, it may be a fallacy, a false dichotomy.

In formal logic, the definition of a dilemma differs markedly from everyday usage. Two options are still present, but choosing between them is immaterial because they both imply the same conclusion. Symbolically expressed thus:

A \vee B, A \Rightarrow C, B \Rightarrow C \vdash C

This can be translated informally as "one (or both) of A or B is known to be true, but they both imply C, so regardless of the truth values of A and B we can conclude C."

Horned dilemmas can present more than two choices. The number of choices of Horned dilemmas can be used in their alternative names, such as two-pronged (two-horned) or dilemma proper , or three-pronged (three-horned) or trilemma, and so on.

Constructive dilemmas--

1. (If X, then Y) and (If W, then Z).
2. X or W.
3. Therefore, Y or Z.

Destructive dilemmas--

1. (If X, then Y) and (If W, then Z).
2. Not Y or not Z.
3. Therefore, not X or not W.

Responses to a Dilemma

In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig outlines possible responses to a dilemma. The classical responses are to either choose one of the two horns and refute the other or alternatively to refute both horns by showing that there are additional choices. Pirsig then mentions three illogical or rhetorical responses. One can "throw sand in the bull's eyes" by, for example, questioning the competence of the questioner. One can "sing the bull to sleep" by, for example, stating that the answer to the question is beyond one's own humble powers and asking the questioner for help. Finally one can "refuse to enter the arena" by, for example, stating that the question is unanswerable.

Named dilemmas

  • Cornelian dilemma
  • Euthyphro dilemma
  • Hedgehog's dilemma
  • Platonia dilemma
  • Prisoner's dilemma
  • Scylla and Charybdis
  • Security dilemma
  • Stagflation
  • Traveler's dilemma
  • Warnock's Dilemma

Other pages

The English Wiktionary has a dictionary definition (meanings of a word) for:
  • Coordination game
  • Dilemma story
  • False dilemma
  • Trilemma
  • Tetralemma

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