International Journal of Social Robotics

, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp 197–204 | Cite as

Humans, Animals, and Robots: A Phenomenological Approach to Human-Robot Relations

  • Mark CoeckelberghEmail author
Open Access


This paper argues that our understanding of many human-robot relations can be enhanced by comparisons with human-animal relations and by a phenomenological approach which highlights the significance of how robots appear to humans. Some potential gains of this approach are explored by discussing the concept of alterity, diversity and change in human-robot relations, Heidegger’s claim that animals are ‘poor in world’, and the issue of robot-animal relations. These philosophical reflections result in a perspective on human-robot relations that may guide robot design and inspire more empirical human-robot relations research that is sensitive to how robots appear to humans in different contexts at different times.


Human-robot relations Human-animal relations Phenomenology Appearance Robot-animal relations 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of TwenteEnschedeThe Netherlands

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