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Dilemmas

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A dilemma (Greek: δί-λημμα

"double proposition") is a problem offering two possibilities, neither of which is practically acceptable. One in this position has been traditionally described as "being on the horns of a dilemma", neither horn being comfortable. This is sometimes more colorfully described as "Finding oneself impaled upon the horns of a dilemma", referring to the sharp points of a bull's horns, equally uncomfortable (and dangerous).

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 incorrectly, it constitutes a false dichotomy, a fallacy.

Types of dilemmasEdit

Colorful names have been given to many types of dilemmas.

  • Double bind: conflicting requirements ensure that the victim will automatically be wrong.
  • Ethical dilemma: a choice between moral imperatives.
  • Extortion: the choice between paying the extortionist and suffering an unpleasant action.
  • Fairness dilemmas: when groups are faced with making decisions about how to share their resources, rewards, or payoffs.
  • Hobson's choice: a choice between something and nothing; "take it or leave it".
  • Morton's fork: choices yield equivalent, often undesirable, results.
  • Prisoner's dilemma: An inability to coordinate makes cooperation difficult and defection tempting.
  • Samaritan's dilemma: the choice between providing charity and improving another's condition, and withholding it to prevent them from becoming dependent.
  • Sophie's choice: a choice between two persons or things that will result in the death or destruction of the person or thing not chosen.
  • Zugzwang: One must move and incur harm when one would prefer to make no move (esp. in chess).


Here is an incomplete list of other particular dilemmas:

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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