Patrick Zoll


There is a constant dissent between exclusivist public reason liberals and their inclusivist religious critics concerning the question whether religious arguments can figure into the public justification of state action. 

Firstly, I claim that the stability of this dissent is best explained as a conflict between an exclusivist third-personal account of public justification which demands restraint, and an inclusivist first-personal account which rejects restraint.

Secondly, I argue that both conceptions are deficient because they cannot accommodate the valid intuitions of their opponents. They either imply a violation of the integrity of religious citizens or they give room for cases where a religious majority can impose a political norm on a minority without having given this minority a reason to comply with the norm.

Finally, I defend an inclusivist model of public reason liberalism which relies on a second-personal conception of public justification. I claim that this model breaks the impasse in favor of inclusivism because religious arguments can play a role in public justification, but they can never justify state action on their own in a plural society. Thus, the problematic cases that motivate exclusivism are excluded without having introduced a principle of restraint which violates the religious integrity of citizens.