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DE VELASCO, Antonio Raul

Spring 2005, pages 47 - 64

Rethinking Perelman's Universal Audience: Political Dimensions of a Controversial Concept

ABSTRACT: This article challenges the common assumption that Chaim Perelman's concept of the universal audience ought to be thought of primarily as a rational standard for argumentation. I argue instead that it has more interesting implications for political critique than for practical reason and that it can be used to draw attention to how social constructions of universality circulate in various contexts of symbolic production. To extend the reach of Perelman's insight, I relate it to four concepts in critical theory and suggest ways that the universal audience might be reconfigured as an instrument for politically conscious rhetorical criticism.
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