—dilemmatic /dil'euh mat"ik/, dilemmatical, dilemmic, adj. —dilemmatically, adv./di lem"euh/, n.1. a situation requiring a choice between equally undesirable alternatives.2. any difficult or perplexing situation or problem.3. Logic. a form of syllogism in which the major premise is formed of two or more hypothetical propositions and the minor premise is a disjunctive proposition, as "If A, then B; if C then D. Either A or C. Therefore, either B or D."[1515-25; < LL < Gk dílemma, equiv. to di- DI-1 + lêmma an assumption, premise, deriv. of lambánein to take]
* * *▪ logicin syllogistic, or traditional, logic, any one of several forms of inference in which there are two major premises of hypothetical form and a disjunctive (“either . . . or”) minor premise. For example:If we increase the price, sales will slump.If we decrease the quality, sales will slump.Either we increase the price orwe decrease the quality.Therefore, sales will slump.In logic ⊃ signifies “if . . . then”; ∨ signifies “either . . . or”. Symbolically, therefore, a dilemma is an argument of the form A ⊃ C, B ⊃ C, A ∨ B, therefore C.It is not necessary that a dilemma should have an unwelcome conclusion; but from its use in rhetoric the word has come to mean a situation in which each of the alternative courses of action (presented as the only ones open) leads to some unsatisfactory consequence. To take a familiar example, a person who is asked, “Have you stopped beating your wife?” is presented with a rhetorical dilemma. In this more complicated version of the dilemma, however, two unwelcome results are presented instead of one (C, above). Thus, the conclusion itself becomes a disjunction:Either you have been beating your wife or you are continuing to beat her.
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