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The Society of Jesus has promulgated the Universal Apostolic Preferences (UAPs) for the decade 2019-29. We know what the UAPs are: to seek God, walk with the poor, accompany youth, and collaborate in the care of the earth. And we know what they are for: the ongoing conversion of persons and institutions in their commitment to the mission of reconciliation of justice. But what, exactly, is a “preference” anyhow? In this reflection, I draw on the moral tradition of virtue ethics to argue that the preferences are best understood as “practices” or, in other words, as the fundamental actions by which crucial virtues like mercy and justice are developed in persons and in institutions. I also argue that seeing the preferences as practices in the context of virtue ethics opens up fruitful possibilities for fostering engagement with the UAPs at Jesuit institutions of higher education.



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