There are several branches of philosophy found in Minority Report –ethics, truth and metaphysics. Ethics is the study of morality; truth is the study of what is true; metaphysics questions reality. The most prominent philosophy in the film is metaphysics, due to it being the underlying philosophy that created the problem and causes the plot to occur in the first place. Ethics and truth are branches of philosophy evident in the film. In Minority Report, the pre-cogs are 3 children who live in half-awake conditions and have previsions of murder scenes simply for a utilitarian purpose, and also the personal gain of Burgess.
It is not right to forego the freedom, innocence and happiness of 3 children just to prevent murders. Even though it is true that they are “suffering” for the greater good, however, they are still human beings and should have equal rights. It might be a “gift” to be able to predict murders and stop them from happening, and thus saving lives, and improving the security and safety of the people, however, if it is at an expense of the three pre-cog’s childhood and freedom, the ethical values of the government are definitely questioned.
Truth is another branch of philosophy found in the film as the Pre-crime Department functions solely based on the previsions of the pre-cogs, which they deem to always be true. As said by Witwer, the Pre-crime Department is “arresting individuals who have broken no law”. It is impossible to prove that they were going to murder without physical evidence that it actually happened. Furthermore, the analogy brought up by Anderton to justify “the fact that you prevented it does not change the fact that it wasn’t going to happen” is simply a straw man fallacy.
Due to the laws of physics, it is supposed to fall due to gravity. However, it is impossible to predict what a human being does since every individual is different. A vision is not sufficient to prove a crime as big as murder, and simply because there have been no failures does not prove that a failure will not happen. And in fact, in the movie, several murders took place due to corruption. This questions what is actually true in the movie.
Even though the philosophies truth and ethics are found in the film, the story is not based on whether using the 3 pre-cogs is right, or if the visions they were providing are right and reliable, but instead on how John defies the path he is made to take, which arose from finding freewill in a deterministic world. The main philosophy branch found in the film is metaphysics, more specifically an argument between determinism and free will, which are branches of metaphysics.
The concept of determinism is prominent in the film since the entire setting of the story is in a futuristic world (2054) where a government branch, Pre-crime Department, prevents crimes from happening based on psychic visions. The fact that pre-cogs are used due to their ability to foresee murders before they happen implies that there exists a “forth-dimension” where our futures (and essentially our lives) are being controlled and pre-made by an infinite being. This also means that we are simply playing out the roles already set out for us.
The whole idea of determinism, which is a philosophy that humans have no control over their own actions and their actions are caused by an external power, is further emphasized by statements said by Anderton such as “The fact that you prevented it does not change the fact that it wasn’t going to happen. ” This statement, as well as another said by Burgess “You do not choose the things you believe in, they choose you”, suggests that our futures are already predetermined.
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