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What’s natural about nature? Deceptive concepts in socio-scientific decision-making
Linnaeus University, Kalmar. (Dept of Chemistry and Biomedicine)
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Physics, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Physics Didactics. (Physics Education Research, Fysikens didaktik)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6409-5182
2015 (English)In: European Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, ISSN 2301-251X, E-ISSN 2301-251X, Vol. 3, no 3, 250-264 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The conflicts between nature and nurture are brought to the fore and challenges socio-scientific decision-making in science education. The multitude of meanings of these concepts and their roles in societal discourses can impede students’ development of understanding for different perspectives, e.g. on gene technology. This study problematizes students’ use of “nature” and “naturalness” to further the development of the experience of science education in relation to the nature-nurture debate. We build on the social constructivism view that present conceptions of nature and naturalness emanate from historical and modern social constructions of nature. Claims presented by upper secondary school students in interviews actualizing the control of human actions pertaining to treatments for hereditary diseases by making use of concepts of “nature” and “naturalness were analysed. The students suggested control of human activity on different levels of biological organisation, either from within the Romantic view or the Enlightenment view on nature.

The Romantic view provided students with moral grounds for consistently preserve what is considered as nature and means to bolster their reasoning by referring to the balance in nature, the purity of nature, and the laws of nature. The Enlightenment view provided students with means to support gene technology by embedding “nurture” into the concept “nature” by using knowledge while implying that nurture is a natural way to overcome such imperfections of nature. We propose that these conflicting views should be addressed in biological education to promote students’ understanding of contemporary discourses dependent on the different concepts of nature and nurture. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 3, no 3, 250-264 p.
Keyword [en]
nature, nurture, knowledge, moral, reasoning, decision-making
National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
Physics with specialization in Physics Education
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-262023OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-262023DiVA: diva2:851827
Swedish Research Council
Available from: 2015-09-07 Created: 2015-09-07 Last updated: 2016-07-27Bibliographically approved

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