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Abstract

Measurements of formal reasoning and principled moral reasoning ability were obtained from a sample of 99 tenth grade students. Specific modes of formal reasoning (proportional reasoning, controlling variables, probabilistic, correlational, and combinatorial reasoning) were first examined. Findings support the notion of hierarchical relationships which exist among those variables. Further results from factor analysis provide evidence that the variables represent specific cognitive structures that are interdependent with each other and precede operations in development. Finally, significant relationships were found to exist between the different modes of formal reasoning and principled moral reasoning. Combinatorial and correlational reasoning were found to significantly account for 22% of the variance in principled moral reasoning. Theoretical and educational implications are discussed.