The Moral Knowledge Initiative

Day after day we read news stories that underscore the dark impact of the fading of moral knowledge from public view.

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

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.

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. 

 

Jane Willard with DMK co-editors Aaron Preson, 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 2019 symposium presentation videos and read the 2019 symposium summary, both of which include access to each of the papers presented. 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 for an overview of all the presentations. (We regret that the video recordings were damaged.)

Developing Resources and Training 

Such as workshops (for scholars and practitioners), DMK primers and guides on key topics for specific fields (teacher, pastor, business professional, 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 DWMinistries@dwillard.org with recommendations and suggestions about the kinds of resources that would: 

  1. Help you communicate the problem and the solution, and 
  2. 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 on our donation page selecting the Moral Knowledge Initiative option from the pull-down menu.

Learn More About the Disappearance of Moral Knowledge

Watch the "Disappearance of Moral Knowledge" lecture and Q&A from UC Irvine's 2010 Psychiatry and Spirituality Forum. Here Dallas explains that "the disappearance of moral knowledge" is the social reality that the knowledge institutions of our society (primarily the universities, but also the churches) do not presume to offer knowledge of good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice to the public. He offers help and hope for what we can do about it.


Read the Preface of The Disappearance of Moral Knowledge.

Select The Disappearance of Moral Knowledge from our book list for a description of the book in Dallas’s own words, the story of how the book was completed, links to read abstracts of each chapter.

Read “The Disappearance of Moral Knowledge: Exploring Dallas Willard’s Parting Diagnosis of our Cultural Moment,” by Steve Porter — Talbot Magazine, June 4, 2019

Watch the Video Overview of The Disappearance of Moral Knowledge presented by Gregg Ten Elshof, Steve Porter and Aaron Preston at the "Experiencing Life With God" conference, Westmont College, May 2018.

Visit The Evangelical Philosophical Society Website.

The resources on this websites are available to you free because of the generosity of our supporters.

Become a supporter

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.”

Thank you for your interest in helping us restore moral knowledge.
The Moral Knowledge Initiative Team