The “Uncanny Valley” (UV) theory predicts that highly realistic human-like artifacts, e.g. robots and animated characters, sometimes elicit eeriness in human subjects. But in spite of a rapidly growing body of interdisciplinary research on the UV, a lack of consensus concerning the cause(s) of this phenomenon persists. Therefore in what follows, I undertake a conceptual “overhaul” of the UV theory in order to facilitate an account of the UV phenomenon. Drawing from philosophical and empirical research, I demonstrate that: (1) eeriness is best understood as anxiety caused by uncertainty
concerning the ontological nature of the artifact; and (2), that the misfiring of cognitive and affective empathic abilities – viz. an inconsistency between a subject’s perception of the artifact’s apparent animacy and mentation, and her knowledge that artifacts ought not possess such attributes – is the primary causal mechanism of the UV phenomenon. Finally, I revise the UV theory accordingly.