Professor John Preston
- +44 (0) 118 378 7327
Departmental Internationalisation Officer.
Part Three Teaching:
Convenor of the Chinese Philosophy module, and the module Science, Values and Reality.
Areas of Interest
Professor Preston is qualified in artificial intelligence, as well as philosophy, and his main research interests are in the history of philosophy (especially Ludwig Wittgenstein, Ernst Mach, and associated late nineteenth and early-to-mid-twentieth-century philosophers and philosopher-scientists, such as Ludwig Boltzmann and Heinrich Hertz), the Vienna Circle (Logical Positivists and their Logical Empiricist successors), Alan Turing, Michael Polanyi, Karl Popper, Thomas Kuhn, Paul Feyerabend, philosophy of science, epistemology, and classical Chinese philosophy.
He is the author of Feyerabend: Philosophy, Science and Society, Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions: A Reader's Guide, and editor of Thought and Language, Views into the Chinese Room, Wittgenstein and Reason, as well as the third volume of Paul Feyerabend’s Philosophical Papers.
Interpreting Mach: Critical Essays (forthcoming with Cambridge University Press during 2020).
Wittgenstein, Natural Science, and the Great Philosopher-Physicists (ongoing book project).
Ludwig Wittgenstein - A Chronology of his Life and Work (ongoing book project associated with my website: www.wittgensteinchronology.com and Facebook page 'Wittgenstein Day-by-Day').
I am happy to supervise doctoral research projects in the following areas: Wittgenstein, the late 19th- and early 20th-century philosopher scientists (especially Ernst Mach), the Vienna Circle, late nineteenth and early-to-mid-twentieth-century analytic philosophy, and the philosophy of science.
In my Chinese Philosophy module, we look at the ‘classical’ Chinese philosophers (Confucius, Mencius, Mozi, Laozi, Zhuangzi, Xunzi, Han Feizi, etc.) and themes from their works, including human nature, partiality and impartiality, the proper organisation of society, moral education, rituals, and the nature of heaven.
In my module Science, Values and Reality we look at fundamental questions in the philosophy of science. We consider the realism/anti-realism debate (about the correct interpretation of scientific theories), debates about scientific methodology and the rationality of science, and the issue of whether and how particular values feature in science.
Research groups / Centres
Academic Work outside Reading University:
I was the first Secretary of the British Wittgenstein Society, from October 2007 until November 2010, at which point I accepted membership of their Honorary Committee. I was a member of the Council of the Royal Institute of Philosophy from 2009 until 2017. I have served as external examiner for cohorts of undergraduate students at the University of Oxford and the University of Exeter, for MA cohorts at Oxford Brookes University, and for PhD or MLitt students at the Universities of Oxford, Manchester, Sheffield, Durham, Bristol, Düsseldorf, and King's College, London.