Social robotics designed to enhance anthropomorphism and zoomorphism seeks to evoke feelings of empathy and other positive emotions in humans. While it is difficult to treat these machines as mere artefacts, the simulated lifelike qualities of robots easily lead to misunderstandings that the machines could be intentional. In this post-anthropocentrically positioned article, we look for a solution to the dilemma by developing a novel concept, “abiozoomorphism.” Drawing on Donna Haraway’s conceptualization of companion species, we address critical aspects of why robots should not be categorized with animals by showing that the distinction between nonliving beings and living beings is still valid. In our phenomenologically informed approach to social robotics, we propose that the concept of abiozoomorphism makes it possible to transcend the strong ethos of biotism that prevails in both robot design and academic research on social robots.

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