We are interested in developing practical techniques of rationality. One practical technique, used widely and successfully in science and technology is formalization … We will reason better about the correctness of the form if we hide the subjects of the argument … [so] renaming primitive notions to meaningless symbols is a reasonable first step in formalization.
I’m not sure that simply renaming things gets me any closer to a rational representation of the truth, unless I am biased with respect to the subject matter. Of course, having been taught a whole bunch of things at school, I may have preconceptions and prejudices about certain arguments and theories in economics. Maybe formalising the argument in symbols can help to overcome those biases, but I doubt it. Unless I am unaware of the meaning of the symbols I will probably incorporate my prejudices into the formal structure I create for my argument and the assumptions that underlie it.
Can a simple renaming of primitives into symbols really help to make me more rational? I’m willing to be convinced 🙂