What is the human person? What account of human virtues such as love, purpose, generosity, and future-mindedness underlies social science models of human motivation and action? The goal of the proposed project is to promote an alternative philosophy known as Critical Realism (CR), which is better able to address these questions, and thereby to promote a wider debate about human personhood and well-being within the social sciences. In contrast to the reductionistic, atomistic and biologistic approaches that currently dominate the field, CR begins from the premise that social reality is emergent, layered, and historical. Similarly, critical realism rejects ethical relativism in favor of a moral realism based on the notion of human flourishing. Specifically, CR presumes that human persons -- the basic building block of all social structures -- have inbuilt capacities for rationality and freedom, and that humans only thrive in societies that enable them to develop these capacities. For critical realists, then, the aim of social science is to understand social reality and promote human flourishing. The aim of this initial project is to develop the resources, identify the scholars, publish the materials, and train the students needed to launch a substantial increase of research on purpose and other Templeton-related themes in the social sciences through the perspective of Critical Realism. The proposed planning grant would support a number of activities including: 1) the preparation of a white paper and several review articles on CR; 2) a reception for students and faculty interested in CR at the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association; 3) a major conference and book on "Realism and Explanation"; 4) a planning meeting to draft a 3-year proposal to JTF; 5) the completion of introductory texts by two prominent critical realists; 6) the creation of a graduate syllabus and seminars; and 7) a philosophy of science summer school for grad students.