Monday, December 01, 2014

Safety and the Ponce and Scott Intersection

This was originally posted on a blog for issues local to the City of Decatur, GA. Since then, that blog has been deleted so I am re-posting this post here since, as far as I know, no changes have been made to address these problems:


On Monday, January 20, 2014 my wife and are were in a serious car accident near the intersection of Ponce and Scott, in Decatur. This area is DeKalb County, but not the City of Decatur. I have learned that at least one other person had the same accident there and others in my Lenox Place neighborhood report many near-misses. Since the foot traffic at that intersection is expected to increase due to the school rezoning and the re-opening of Westchester Elementary, it is especially important that this intersection be made safer. This page describes some of the problems and offers some suggestions to make the intersection safer. 

This page was created to readily present this information to those who can directly make changes.


On Monday, January 20, 2014, we were driving north on East Parkwood, crossing Ponce. We had a green light. A driver coming down Ponce, heading west, ran the red light and smashed into our car, and then hit another car going south on East Parkwood that was, presumably, turning left on Ponce to head up the hill. 

Since this accident, a friend told me that the exact same accident happened to her, and many friends and neighbors have reported near-misses at that intersection.


Some factors that contribute to the unsafe conditions at this intersection include:
  1. Too many people run the red light at Ponce and East Parkwood, either intentionally or accidentally. Many neighbors report seeing this.
  2. The view of Ponce when heading north on East Parkwood is obstructed: there is a hill on the southeast corner there and many plants in the way. So, drivers on East Parkwood cannot really see who is coming down Ponce and react accordingly. In my accident, I assumed that "green means go" and that it was safe for us to continue driving through the intersection, and did not see the car speeding down Ponce that hit us. This video helps show this:
  3. Presumably, too many people speed down Ponce. City of Decatur police often sit and catch people speeding up the hill, so there surely must be people speeding down the hill. 
  4. Coming from the other direction on Ponce, heading east, the view of the light at Ponce and East Parkwood is obstructed by this magnolia tree:


Here are a few recommendations for how to make this intersection safer:
  1. The lights at East Parkwood should display red and flashing yellow, not green, so that drivers enter the intersection with caution and do not assume that drivers on Ponce will stop for them.
  2. If anything obstructing the view coming north on East Parkwood to Ponce can be removed, that would help.
  3. The speed limit down Ponce should be reduced. Perhaps a flashing red or yellow light could be put in around half way down the hill, or at the bend near Upland, to deter speeding and to help drivers expect to perhaps be stopping at the stoplight. 
  4. Most importantly, something needs to be done to make drivers on Ponce more aware of the light at East Parkwood, so they do not run it and run over anyone in that intersection, pedestrian or other drivers. Perhaps small speed bumps, or texture in the road would help, or something else. 
  5. The driver who hit us reported seeing a green light at Ponce and Scott and that this contributed to her ignoring the red light at Ponce and East Parkwood. I have investigated this (see the video below), however, and have found that - at least when I observed these lights - they are never in this combination. So, a driver would not look farther down the road, see a green, and ignore the red, since that doesn't happen. If it does, however, the light timing should be changed so that the lights never display in this potentially confusing combination. 

These are a few recommendations for improving safety at this intersection. I am sure that experts on these issues would have more and better recommendations. If you have any recommendations, please add them as comments below or contact me, Nathan. 


Nathan Nobis
Decatur, GA 30030

Monday, September 29, 2014

Animals and Ethics Course

For the past few years, I have periodically taught an ethics and animals course, online. Here are some of the files: the "lectures" files (the most interesting and important file), the "readings" file and the "syllabus" files. I'd appreciate any reactions to the course organization and content. Thanks!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Saturday, September 06, 2014

A Logic-Based Therapy Training Event

Any philosophers interested in psychotherapy and mental health issues, especially those near Chicago, should check out this upcoming event, which should be quite good:

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Career Counseling Assignment

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it.
Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” ― Howard Thurman

A few years ago I developed an assignment called "Calling and Careers" that was intended to help students start to find their "calling." That assignment is posted here, although the formatting is a bit off. I'd be curious to learn of any other assignments like this that anyone else has incorporated into their courses.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Addendum to Tom Regan's "Ethical Perspectives on the Treatment and Status of Animals"

Nobis, Nathan. "I. Ethical Perspectives on the Treatment and Status of Animals [Addendum]." Bioethics. Ed. Bruce Jennings. 4th ed. Vol. 1. Farmington Hills, MI: Macmillan Reference USA, 2014. 252-254. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 26 June 2014.

This is an addendum to: Regan, Tom. "I. Ethical Perspectives on the Treatment and Status of Animals." Bioethics. Ed. Bruce Jennings. 4th ed. Vol. 1. Farmington Hills, MI: Macmillan Reference USA, 2014. 240-252. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 26 June 2014.

Monday, June 16, 2014

2nd Call for Abstracts: Philosophy of Race: Introductory Readings

2nd Call for Abstracts for Philosophy of Race: Introductory Readings

Due by July 15, 2014

A first call for abstracts yielded these abstract/outline submissions presented below in this draft table of contents. A second call for abstracts is now open, until July 15th, for contributors who would like to submit further abstracts & outlines for consideration. These submissions can be new issues and topics or augment, extend, contrast with or challenge or contrast with these submissions below. Abstract(s) should be sent and Please see for more information about the nature and plans for this collection of readings.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Philosophical Service Projects

This semester, I developed a "Philosophical Service Project" assignment that went really well:
For this assignment, you will, in a group, perform some "community service." The service you will provide is demonstrating to the community how to thinking critically about moral issues using the logical methods we've practiced in this class. So, you will model thinking in systematic ways about moral issues, engage some arguments from your audience and help them evaluate these arguments.
If anyone uses and develops this assignment, please let me know how it works out. 
For more ideas, typically with a more "hands on" component, see

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Robert P. George and Christopher Tollefsen, Embryo: A Defense of Human Life

Robert P. George (Princeton)'s views about marriage have gotten a lot of attention lately. A simple statement of his view is that that marriage is the "kind" of relationship that results in children: since same-sex relationships cannot ("naturally") result in children, he claims they can't be, or shouldn't be considered, marriage. Of course, many opposite-sex marriages do not and cannot result in children, yet they are marriages, so this view seems to have a problem. See this informative and entertaining video by John Corvino that discusses these arguments.

George's views about embryo research (and abortion) appeal to the same kind of "kind" argument: embryos are the "kind" of being that has a "rational nature." Yet embryo's are not rational, or not yet rational, and so this view seems problematic also. Years ago I wrote this paper discussing George's arguments. I re-post it here in case reading it would improve discussion of each "kind" argument, about embryo research and marriage:

Critical Study of Robert P. George and Christopher Tollefsen, Embryo: A Defense of Human Life
Abstract: In Embryo: A Defense of Human Life (Doubleday, 2008), Robert P. George and Christopher Tollefsen argue that human embryo-destructive experimentation is morally wrong and should not be supported with state funds. I argue that their arguments are unsuccessful.

I never really tried to publish this paper because I found this book a few years after it was published and so by that point I thought there wouldn't be much interest in a longer critical review anywhere.

For discussion of similar arguments, see my "Abortion, Metaphysics and Morality: A Review of Francis Beckwith’s Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice."

Full paper below:

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Bioethics and Cancer Biomarker Research

I currently am working on a chapter on "Bioethics and Cancer Biomarker Research." If you happen to know of any relevant resources on those specific issues, please contact me. Thank you!

Friday, January 10, 2014