Jeremy recently highlighted a speech by Paul Krugman, the famous economist with a column in the NY Times here . In this speech, Krugman very casually throws out that he is aligned with the Neo-Keynesian school of thought. And elsewhere in the speech Krugman points out that the Galbraith school would think this (emphasizing the societal context of the individual thinker) and the Marxian school would think that (emphasize that decisions are made collectively and not necessarily individually). And although he doesn’t say it in the speech, Krugman’s school of thought is in a death match with the University of Chicago (or Milton Friedman) school of thought.
Lakatos (my favorite philosopher of science: Wikipedia or in his own words) argues that all science starts with each individual scientist subscribing to a core research program that has certain key assumptions that are not really on the table for debate. Although this could sound unscientific, this is just a more nuanced version of Kuhn’s paradigm shift – Lakatos’ version still allows for objective advancement of science it just changes the time scale and thought scale (science as a whole, not individuals) at which objectivity occurs as scientists select successful research programs. I know of one paper that frames an ecological concept (optimization theory) in this framework (this paper). I would argue Lakatos’ core research programs look not that unlike economic’s schools of thought.
Is Lakatos right? Are ecologists really divided into camps/schools of thought like economists – i.e. core research programs that consciously or unconsciously drive and circumscribe our basic approach? Are we just too blinded by our need to appear objective to admit that we belong to schools of thought? What schools of thought do you think exist in ecology? Do you belong to a school of thought? What school of thought is your mortal enemy?