(Discussion of Tanner Lecture 2) Nicholas Lemann: What Transactions Can't Do
This is a discussion of Lecture 2 of the Tanner Lecture from the previous night, "What Transactions Can't Do."
In "The Transaction Society: Origins and Consequences," Lemann plans to propose that American society fundamentally changed in the second half of the twentieth century from privileging institutions, interacting in a pluralistic fashion, to privileging transactions. The first lecture will be an intellectual history tracing the broad turn against strong institutions as a social ideal, in favor of efficiency and broad notions of fairness and justice. The second lecture will be more specific about how this change in ethos manifested itself in actual social, legal, and economic arrangements, and will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the social regime resulting from these changes.