Freedom is a contested concept, at once bound up with and promising transcendence of social bonds. This article examines the understanding of freedom particular to rhetorical theory, a troubled freedom that is the negotiation of constraint. Articulating this concept in negotiation of Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca’s “universal audience,” the article explores a key implication of troubled freedom for the governance of human persons. Given that human personhood is a rhetorical phenomenon, that persons emerge in flows of tendentious discourse, the article urges a rhetorical approach to democratic constitution writing. Constitution should be composed to foster the rhetorical capabilities of demoi.

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