Given the array of potential behaviors, all actions in life require choices. The essay examines those choices that come to be identified as posing dilemmas. Characteristics of dilemmas are presented providing a framework for a discussion of how the development of thought, through both cognitive construction and social interaction, leads to an interpretation of the meaning of, first, any event involving choices and then, those events identified as dilemmas. A case is made that the development of the concept of dilemma requires the ability to act with intention and to interpret others’ behavior as if it were intentional. In addition, a second aspect of development, the interpretation of contradiction, is discussed as a necessary condition for the invention of dilemmas.

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