Justin Taylor|12:20 pm CT

5 Purposes of Moral Education

Moral education serves at least five purposes, according to J. Budziszewski:

  1. It reinforces what we know, because the mere fact that we know something is wrong is not enough to keep us from doing it.
  2. It elicits what we know, because we know many things without knowing that we know them.
  3. It guards what we know, because although deep conscience cannot err, surface conscience can err in all too many ways.
  4. It builds upon what we know, because only the most general and basic matters of right and wrong are known to us immediately, and second knowledge must be added to first.
  5. Finally, it confronts us about what we know, because sometimes we need to be told “You know better.”

—J. Budziszewski, What We Can’t Not Know: A Guide, rev. ed. (Ignatius Press, 2011) p. 124 [my emphasis and formatting].


  1. I like number 2: it elicits what we know. Too often I find myself leaving things unsaid because I know that others know them… particularly in a preaching context. But this reminder remedies that mistake. Time to begin eliciting!

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  3. #3 states: “deep conscience cannot err”. Really? I guess i’d need a better definition of “deep” conscience, but I’ll stick to Scripture as my source of Truth and what is or is not error, thank you very much!

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