Does logic have a more proper word to mean something similar to dilemma but neutral?

Section 7.8 The Dilemma of Copi's Introduction to Logic says:

The dilemma is a common form of argument in ordinary language. It is, in essence, an argumentative device in which syllogisms on the same topic are combined, sometimes with devastating effect.

and

A dilemma need not always have an unpleasant conclusion. An example of one with a happy conclusion is provided by the following simple dilemma:

If the blest in heaven have no desires, they will be perfectly content; so they will be also if their desires are fully gratified; but either they will have no desires, or have them fully gratified; therefore they will be perfectly content.

So is dilemma a suitable word for that form or arguments?

Does logic have a more proper word to mean something similar to dilemma but neutral?

• There are formal arguments in propositional logic: Destructive dilemma, linked to Modus Tollens, and Constructive dilemma, linked to Modus Ponens. Nothing pleasant or unpleasant in them. Sep 22 at 13:07
• To be honest, the example of dilemma must be formalized with Disjunction elimination (aka: proof by cases). Sep 22 at 14:17
• Compare and contrast with words like "zugzwang," which really do mean that none of the possible alternatives are palatable. Sep 22 at 22:29
• "Dilemma" is an argument that concludes that one of two mutually exclusive possibilities (called "horns") must be the case. In philosophical contexts, there is often a connotation that both horns are somehow undesirable. In math, "dichotomy" or "alternative" are used instead, as in dichotomy theorem and Fredholm alternative. There are also trichotomies and trilemmas. Sep 23 at 0:48
• If you wanted to be more neutral, you could use the term binary. Sep 23 at 0:50

In logic, dilemma is the term commonly used for an argument form that proceeds from a disjunctive premise to a disjunctive conclusion. It is entirely neutral as to the desirability of the two alternatives.

Copi is right to point out that the word often has a negative connotation in English. Being in a dilemma is usually a bad thing: a choice between unpleasant options. Most dictionaries give this definition.

But the logical use is older, according to etymology. It seems to have been introduced in the 16th century precisely for the purpose of expressing a binary-alternative pair of propositions in rhetoric. It is one of those cases where, over time, the word has acquired an additional association.

In English, I'm not aware of any single word that has the opposite association, i.e. of pleasant alternatives. Colloquially we may say of a person with multiple good options they they are spoiled for choice.

• Actually the negative thing about a dilemma is that the choice isn't obvious. Pizza and Ice Cream are both good. Having to choose between them, not so much. Sep 22 at 22:18
• @candied_orange Maybe, but calling it a dilemma is likely to be seen as facetious. Another common metaphor for this is "first world problem" -- again, problem usually is considered a negative, but in this case it's not so much. Sep 23 at 22:29
• @barmar dilemma has more than one definition. The choices do not have to be undesirable. Just not easy to choose between. Sep 23 at 22:37
• @candied_orange Good point. The negative context is the difficulty of choosing, not the choices themselves. It's not always a choice between a rock and a hard place. Sep 25 at 15:10

So is dilemma a suitable word for that form or arguments?

You only need to look up dilemma in a dictionary. For example:

Dilemma [1515–1525] from Late Latin; from Greek: dílēmma, meaning "double assumption" or "double premise" -- from Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary (2010)

So the word dilemma is perfectly appropriate.

Does logic have a more proper word to mean something similar to dilemma but neutral?

I doubt there could be a "more proper" word. Dilemma is perfectly appropriate.

I failed to see in what Copi says about the word "dilemma" anything that even suggests that it is not somehow "neutral".

There are many synonyms in English:

predicament, problem, difficulty, spot, fix, mess, puzzle, jam, embarrassment, plight, strait, pickle, quandary, perplexity.

So the word is often used in English to suggest the idea of predicament or quandary, and more generally the state of indecision when facing two equally unpleasant alternatives, but in formal logic it just means "double assumption", in accord with its original meaning in Greek.

It is clear that it is the use of the word "dilemma" in English (and in French) which has evolved to (also) mean "two unpleasant alternatives" instead of "double assumption". Presumably, this is because the word "alternative" on its own was, well, too neutral.

You could describe dilemma in the logical sense as disjunction of two mutually incompatible assumptions, but this would be frivolous. You would just annoy academics for no good reason.

• The meaning, and especially connotations, of words often diverges greatly from its etymology. Sep 23 at 22:27
• @Barmar "The meaning, and especially connotations, of words often diverges greatly from its etymology." So what? Sep 24 at 15:52
• Your answer starts with the etymology, suggesting that this is relevant to current meaning. Sep 24 at 16:56
• @Barmar "Your answer starts with the etymology, suggesting that this is relevant to current meaning." Yes, and? It is definitely true that etymology is relevant to current meaning. So? Sep 25 at 10:22
• It's not totally irrelevant, but not very useful for nuance. There are many instances of negative words evolving into positives and vice versa. E.g. "awful" (its original meaning lives on in the intensifier "awfully"). Sep 25 at 15:13