The Moral Knowledge Initiative

What does the disappearance of moral knowledge mean for our lives? It means the loss of moral guidance concerning good and evil, praiseworthy and blameworthy actions and characters, honorable and dishonorable lives and institutions—both for the individual trying to find his or her way and for groups trying to live together in the way that is best. Without moral knowledge, individual and group life is left to drift at the behest of desire, force, and chance.

- Dallas Willard, The Disappearance of Moral Knowledge, p. 347

Day after day we read news stories that underscore the dark impact of the fading of moral knowledge from public view. The 2018 publication of Dallas’s The Disappearance of Moral Knowledge has inspired us to take action toward restoring moral knowledge to our culture and to those institutions responsible for our flourishing and well being. “The Moral Knowledge Initiative” embodies our desire and intention to recapture and advance this vital part of our lives and culture so that goodness and virtue can be passed down to future generations.

In The Disappearance of Moral Knowledge, Dallas details how moral knowledge “disappeared” and outlines the beginning steps needed to bring that knowledge back into the realm of public and social institutions long responsible for modeling and teaching it. (To see how Dallas described “moral knowledge” and its progressive disappearance to an audience of non-philosophers in 2007, please read Where is Moral Knowledge?) We are committed to pursuing the “Steps Forward” to restoring moral knowledge that Dallas identified in the final chapter of this revolutionary book.

(Pictured: Jane Willard with DMK co-editors: Aaron Preston, Gregg Ten Elshof and Steve Porter.)

The initiative leadership team includes the co-editors of The Disappearance of Moral Knowledge, the Willard family, and Dallas Willard Ministries. We are joining forces with a number of Dallas’s ministry partners, colleagues and friends to pursue the vision embodied in his book. (Pictured: Jane Willard with DMK co-editors Aaron Preston, Gregg Ten Elshof and Steve Porter.)

The stewards and leaders of ideas and institutions need guidance and assistance to address the destructive fallout caused by the radical cultural shift that occurred in the early 20th century regarding the public availability of moral knowledge. Our Initiative is moving toward the development of tools to assist in revitalizing the heart of moral goodness and knowledge within these institutions and our culture at large.

What WE are doing:

Meeting with leading scholars and institutional leaders across various cultural sectors and industries to identify and address the impact of the ‘disappearance’ of moral knowledge, its implications, and the means for its restoration. This will be a multi-year project with a diagnostic as well as solution-driven approach. Our efforts will include:

  • Moral Knowledge symposiums: Gathering groups for interdisciplinary conversation and actionable next steps that will focus on the restoration of moral knowledge within various institutions within our culture. Our first symposium took place in May of 2019, with presentations in the fields of law, philosophy, moral psychology, and education, and an entire afternoon devoted to discussing next steps in these professions and for the initiative. Please see our symposium summary, which includes links to each of the papers and video of the presentations. Our second symposium, “Knowing What’s True, Doing What’s Good,” was hosted by Oaks Christian School and co-sponsored by Westmont College on February 3-4, 2020, in Westlake Village, CA, with presentations on science, philosophy, diversity, education and sports. See the symposium program for speakers and papers, and see the symposium summary.
  • Moral Knowledge national conference: Dissemination of research and analysis to equip attendees to be agents of change within their fields of influence. Specific conference plans will come out of the symposium discussions.
  • Provide resources and training such as workshops (for scholars and practitioners), DMK primers and guides on key topics for specific fields (teacher, pastor, businessman, politician…), journal discussions, commissioned lecture series, articles and books sourced from symposium and conference presentations, and curriculum development.

What YOU can do:

  • Contact us at with recommendations and suggestions about the kinds of resources that would: a) help you communicate the problem and the solution, and b) help you share that information. This will be particularly helpful if you can guide us on how to reach people in your specific field/occupation.
  • Pray for these efforts. The spiritual forces that have been pushing our culture away from the understanding and valuing of moral attributes have been clearly opposing this effort since Dallas began his work.
  • Donate to the Initiative through Dallas Willard Ministries (501c3). Checks can be sent to Dallas Willard Ministries at 5158 Clareton Drive #1859, Agoura Hills, CA 91376. Or you can donate by Credit Card through PayPal by clicking the button below and selecting the Moral Knowledge Initiative option from the pull-down menu.

John Ortberg said, “We simply cannot live or choose or raise children or have a political society or navigate through life without moral knowledge. Knowing right from wrong is essential to our humanity.”

Will you help us work to restore moral knowledge?

Thank you!
The Moral Knowledge Initiative Team is co-sponsored by the family of Dallas Willard, Dallas Willard Ministries, and FiveStone.