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Moral reasoning patterns and influential factors in the context of environmental problems

This study investigated pre-service science teachers' (PSTs') moral reasoning patterns and the factors underlying these reasoning patterns. Local and non-local environmental dilemmas were used to examine moral reasoning patterns. An explanatory design was used with the collection and analysis of quantitative data, which was subsequently refined using qualitative interview data. For the quantitative part of the study, PSTs were asked to comment on four local and non-local environmental dilemmas (i.e. deforestation, e-waste, oil spills, and global warming). The responses were categorized as ecocentric, anthropocentric, or non-environmental reasoning. The findings showed that the participants' moral reasoning focused on both ecocentric and anthropocentric perspectives, with a few displaying non-environmental reasoning. Concern for environmental problems was related to perceptions of whether the issue was directly related to nature, and was independent of whether the issues were local or non-local. The Moral Decision Making Interview protocol was used in the qualitative part of the study. Analysis revealed that the participants' moral decisions were based on their resolutions in situational context and their concerns showed variations in their moral reasoning due to different factors like, effect on human life, formal principles, notion of rights, moral emotions, potential harm to others, and popular culture.