Thinking about Culture, Religion and
• Do cultural value, traditions and religious beliefs conflict with critical thinking?
• They need not to buy one has to handle them with extreme caution!
• Some examples: Quebec’s tendency toward separatism; Quebec’s language reforms; the presence
of Sharia law in Canada.
• Culture: shared habits, practices, beliefs and values of a group of people.
• Cultural traits aren’t the same as stereotypes!
• Stereotype: an oversimplified idea of what a culture or a person is.
• Ex: all Canadians are into hockey.
• Sub-culture: a smaller group within a culture that has its own specific interests and goals.
• Ex: French Canadian sub-culture.
• Counter-culture: a relatively small group within a given culture that wants to change society as a
• Ex: Canadian anarchist movements.
• Tradition: a generally accepted practice handed down from generation to generation.
• Ex: breastfeeding.
• Tradition isn’t necessarily against progress!
• Different traditional practices can be accommodated within one culture.
• Ex: if the RCMP officer is a Sikh, he could wear the turban instead of the Stetson.
• Religion: a system of beliefs organized around a faith in the existence of a God or Gods.
• Religion and morality: similarities and differences.
• All major monotheistic religions seem to subscribe to a code of behaviour that we identify as
moral (e.g., ‘do not kill’). • However, a religion is governed by a belief in the existence of God(s) which entail certain rituals,
and morality doesn’t have to be.
• Morality can be governed by reason alone.
• Three approaches to culture, religion and tradition.
• Relativism: there is no objective standard we can appeal to judge a given culture.
• Our judgements, then, are subjective.
• So, we can’t criticize a given culture, etc. from the outside.
• Positives of relativism: it teaches tolerance and charity.
• Negatives of relativism: relativism works well if everyone involved is well intentioned. But what
to do if one of the parties is ill intentioned (e.g., the Nazi regime)?
• Universalism: there is an objective sta