Claudia Maria Passos Ferreira
Assistant Professor of Bioethics
Claudia Passos-Ferreira is Assistant Professor of Bioethics. She studied psychology at the Rio de Janeiro State University and earned her MA and Ph.D. in the program of Human Sciences and Health Sciences in Public Health there. She obtained a second Ph.D. in Philosophy at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.
Passos-Ferreira has published on philosophy, psychology, and neuroethics. She has collaborated in crosscultural research on moral development and social cognition (on topics such as empathy, fairness, ownership, intersubjectivity). She has published a book on Freud and mental causation. In philosophy of mind, she has published on self-knowledge, introspection, and external mental content. Passos-Ferreira’s current research program focuses on the development of consciousness, including what theories of consciousness say about infant consciousness and machine consciousness, and how these theories shed light on ethical issues.
Prior to joining NYU, Passos-Ferreira was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Federal University of Rio de Janeiro with the Ethics and Biotechnologies project., and a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the State University of Rio de Janeiro with the Ecological Mind and Self-Consciousness project. Earlier in her career, she was awarded a Residency Scholarship from the Brazilian Health Ministry and she received clinical training in Child-Adolescent Mental Health and Mental Health. She has worked as clinical psychologist in private practice and public hospitals as well in Brazil.
BA, Psychology, Rio de Janeiro State University, Rio de Janeiro, BrazilMA and PhD, Human Sciences and Health Sciences in Public Health, Rio de Janeiro State University, Rio de Janeiro, BrazilPhD, Philosophy, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Empathizing with The Intellectually DisabledPassos Ferreira, C. (n.d.). In A. P. Barbosa-Fohrmann & S. Caponi (Eds.), Latin American Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Bioethics and Disabilities.
Page(s)3AbstractThis chapter is devoted to reflecting on the role of empathy in interactions with people with profound intellectual disabilities. We have a duty to respect people with intellectual disabilities. Respect involves identification with a point of view. We owe them an effort at identification with their perspective. However, if intellectually disabled people’s communicative abilities are impaired, our apprehension of their point of view might be limited, reducing our ability to identify with them and respect them. To answer this challenge, I appeal to empathy. Through imaginative empathy, we can learn to identify with their perspectives. I argue that empathy is a good moral guide and can be helpful in developing respectful attitudes toward people with profound intellectual disabilities.
Freud's views on mental causationPassos-Ferreira, C. (n.d.). In Psychoanalysis and the Mind-Body Problem.
Editorial introduction symposium on pain amnesia and qualitative memoryPassos-Ferreira, C. (n.d.).
Journal titleJournal of Consciousness Studies
In Defense of Empathy: a response to PrinzPassos Ferreira, C. (n.d.).
Journal titleAbstracta: Linguagem, Mente e AçãoAbstractA prevailing view in moral psychology holds that empathy and sympathy play key roles in morality and in prosocial and altruistic actions. Recently, Jesse Prinz (2011a, 2011b) has challenged this view and has argued that empathy does not play a foundational or causal role in morality. He suggests that in fact the presence of empathetic emotions is harmful to morality. Prinz rejects all theories that connect empathy and morality as a constitutional, epistemological, developmental, motivational, or normative necessity. I consider two of Prinz’s theses: the thesis that empathy is not necessary for moral development, and the thesis that empathy should be avoided as a guide for morality. Based on recent research in moral psychology, I argue that empathy plays a crucial role in development of moral agency. I also argue that empathy is desirable as a moral emotion.
O self como centro de ação em James e WinnicottPassos-Ferreira, C. (n.d.).
Page(s)27-42AbstractOur goal is to investigate the notion of self-agency in James and Winnicott. With James, we examine the descriptive element of what constitutes a self. With Winnicott, we explore his explanatory theory on self-emergence. Winnicott's perspective is presented here as the prehistory of the Jamesian self. James's conception of self is similar to the Winnicottian integrated self that is an embodied position that emerges from the organism's actions at the experiential field. The blend of the two approaches leads to the idea that the self is a flux of identities emerging in interaction with others in the transitional space.
Ownership reasoning in children across culturesRochat, P., Robbins, E., Passos-Ferreira, C., Donato Oliva, A., Dias, M. D., & Guo, L. (n.d.).
Page(s)471-484AbstractTo what extent do early intuitions about ownership depend on cultural and socio-economic circumstances? We investigated the question by testing reasoning about third party ownership conflicts in various groups of three- and five-year-old children (N= 176), growing up in seven highly contrasted social, economic, and cultural circumstances (urban rich, poor, very poor, rural poor, and traditional) spanning three continents. Each child was presented with a series of scripts involving two identical dolls fighting over an object of possession. The child had to decide who of the two dolls should own the object. Each script enacted various potential reasons for attributing ownership: creation, familiarity, first contact, equity, plus a control/neutral condition with no suggested reasons. Results show that across cultures, children are significantly more consistent and decisive in attributing ownership when one of the protagonists created the object. Development between three and five years is more or less pronounced depending on culture. The propensity to split the object in equal halves whenever possible was generally higher at certain locations (i.e., China) and quasi-inexistent in others (i.e., Vanuatu and street children of Recife). Overall, creation reasons appear to be more primordial and stable across cultures than familiarity, relative wealth or first contact. This trend does not correlate with the passing of false belief theory of mind.
Does the brain have anything to do with morality? Mirror neurons, empathy and neuromoralityPassos-Ferreira, C. (n.d.).
Page(s)471-490AbstractThis paper aims to consider the impact of progress in the neurosciences, in particular the discovery of mirror neurons, on the study of morality. It analyzes the current attempts at naturalizing moral principles based on this discovery, reducing human morality to basic biological properties. It explores how psychological studies on empathy, perspective taking and embodied simulation have gained new credibility, explanatory power, and overall theoretical "traction" because of the discovery of mirror neuron systems. As part of this movement, there are now renewed attempts by researchers at establishing functional links, possibly causal links, between brain and moral thought. These attempts and the renewed quest toward naturalizing ethics are critically considered.
A ritalina no Brasil: Produções, discursose práticasOrtega, F., Barros, D., Caliman, L., Itaborahy, C., Junqueira, L., & Ferreira, C. P. (n.d.).
Journal titleInterface: Communication, Health, Education
Page(s)499-510AbstractThe aim of this paper was to present ongoing research on the social representations relating to ritalin in Brazil between 1998 and 2008. Over this period, there was a considerable increase in ritalin usage and expansion of its use to purposes other than therapeutic use. Ritalin has been used not only for treating attention disorders, but also to enhance cognitive functions in healthy individuals. The research has developed through two fields of investigation with different methodologies. In the first field, Brazilian scientific and popular publications have been investigated, with analysis on the arguments justifying ritalin usage and how scientific results are disseminated to the lay public in large-circulation newspapers. In the second field, focus groups have been used to explore the social representations that university students, students' parents and healthcare professionals have in relation to the use of ritalin for enhancing cognitive performance.
Fairness in distributive justice by 3- and 5-year-olds across seven culturesRochat, P., Dias, M. D., Liping, G., Broesch, T., Passos-Ferreira, C., Winning, A., & Berg, B. (n.d.).
Journal titleJournal of Cross-Cultural Psychology
Page(s)416-442AbstractThis research investigates 3- and 5-year-olds' relative fairness in distributing small collections of even or odd numbers of more or less desirable candies, either with an adult experimenter or between two dolls. The authors compare more than 200 children from around the world, growing up in seven highly contrasted cultural and economic contexts, from rich and poor urban areas, to small-scale traditional and rural communities. Across cultures, young children tend to optimize their own gain, not showing many signs of self-sacrifice or generosity. Already by 3 years of age, self-optimizing in distributive justice is based on perspective taking and rudiments of mind reading. By 5 years, overall, children tend to show more fairness in sharing. What varies across cultures is the magnitude of young children's self-interest. More fairness (less self-interest) in distributive justice is evident by children growing up in small-scale urban and traditional societies thought to promote more collective values.
Homo negotiatusRochat, P., & Ferreira, C. P. (n.d.). In Origins of the Social Mind: Ontogeny of the unique ways humans own, share and reciprocate.
Page(s)141-156AbstractSocial animals need to share space and resources, whether sexual partners, parents, or food. Sharing is indeed at the core of social life. Humans, however, of all social animals, have distinct ways of sharing. They evolved to become Homo Negotiatus; a species that is prone to bargain and to dispute the value of things until some agreement is reached.