Social Robots, Emotions, and Social Cognition:

Conceptual, Empirical, and Ethical Perspectives


Special Issue in Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology

(Expected: Volume 23, Issue 2, 2019)


Guest Editors:

Johanna Seibt

Raffaele Rodogno


Research Unit for Robophilosophy

School for Culture and Society

Aarhus University, Denmark




So-called ‘social robots’ are embodied artificial agents that move in the physical space of human social interaction and can be perceived as social agents or social interaction partners—due to their appearance, their movements, and their behavioral functionalities. The affordances of social robots also include the capacity to elicit human emotional responses, especially positive emotional appeal and attachment.  Research in Human-Robot Interaction Studies (HRI) and Social Robotics has begun to investigate the emotional dimension in our experience of social robots and the relationship between emotional response to and social cognition of these devices.  However, the systematic complexity of the conceptual implications of these phenomena and their normative aspects call for a wider scope of interdisciplinary competences.  Which emotions social robots can, may, should, and should not elicit in human beings–these are issues that need the expertise of philosophers and other Humanities scholars.

The contributions collected within this special issue will address the emotional dimension of the human experience of social robots from the perspective of “robophilosophy”, a new area of interdisciplinary research in philosophy and  close interdisciplinary contact with all disciplines involved in specific social robotics applications (robotics, cognitive science, psychology, sociology, anthropology, linguistics, education science;  see Seibt, Nørskov, and Hakli  2014).

The aim of this issue thus is to engage the pressing questions of the emotional dimension of social robotics from a perspective that combines the empirical knowledge   with the specific tools and competences that philosophers can bring to questions of conceptual implications and normative assessments. The  focus of this special issue will not be on the possible realization of emotions as ‘inner’ states with phenomenal qualities, but on the display of emotions and the affordance of emotions.  For a more detailed description of the core questions that submissions should preferably address, see


Papers are expected to preferably not exceed 7,500 words (excluding notes and references), to be prepared for blind review with no identifying references to you or your institution and accompanied by an abstract of no more than 250 words plus 4-5 key words. For detailed instructions consult Techné’s submission guidelines.


Please submit your paper online here: