Contrary to the mainstream epistemology of social science, this paper argues that the mission of social science is more than explaining. It treats behavior as product of both situation and mind that is always undecidable until it happens. Accordingly, the mission of social science is to discover those other behavioral possibilities that could have occurred but did not. These possibilities are often explained away in theory-driven research, as if external, objective structures close them off. As a result, the actors under study are left without responsibility, to the extent that anyone in the same shoes would act in the same way. This paper borrows Mencius's analogy of himself deciding between a fish and bear's paws and eventually favoring the paws. The paper contends that Mencius did not really favor the paws. Based on this assumption, it is epistemologically imperative to discover the fish, which disappeared in Mencius's decision. It is the fish that made Mencius's choice of the paws a genuine choice, and Mencius, a real person.
- epistemology ； ontology ； alterity ； violence