Jürgen Habermas supports his transhistorical conception of violence as a form of instrumental reason to be rejected from the ideal polity with a historical narrative that recounts the rejection of Machiavellian and Hobbesian instrumental violence by the Enlightenment philosophes. This article provides a revised narrative, which emphasizes the persistence of a rhetorical conception of violence from Machiavelli's princely violence to a line of Anglo-American republican thinkers who shifted the locus of sovereign rhetorical violence to the people's armed militia. The narrative culminates with Madison's exegesis of the Second Amendment and sketches how this Madisonian conception harmonizes with Habermasian norms and law.

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