The Minority Report


Philip K. Dick

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The Minority Report Summary

“The Minority Report” tells the story of John Anderton, the creator and head of Precrime, a police agency that uses three mutants called “precogs” to foresee and stop future crimes before they are committed. Anderton’s own system predicts that he will murder a man within the coming week, but he thinks that he is being framed. Anderton seeks to evade capture while investigating what has happened.

The story begins as Anderton meets his new assistant, Witwer, a confident, handsome young man who immediately makes Anderton insecure and defensive. After discussing the Precrime system with Witwer, Anderton learns from reading a card with precognitive data that he will murder a man named Leopold Kaplan, whom he does not know. Anderton refuses to believe this shocking prediction, and suspects that he is being set up by the Senate, which is working with Witwer to remove him as Police Commissioner. Anderton also suspects that his wife, Lisa, an executive officer at Precrime, is involved in the plot, based in part upon her overly friendly interaction with Witwer. Deciding to flee the planet before he is detained, Anderton heads home to pack, where he is apprehended by a man who takes him to see Kaplan.

Standing before the man he is supposedly going to murder, Anderton tries to explain to Kaplan that Witwer and Lisa are trying to frame him—he has no intentions of actually killing Kaplan. Kaplan concedes that this may be so, but says that for his own safety, he must turn Anderton over to the police, and promptly loads Anderton into a car with body guards. Not long after they’ve departed, though, a bread truck crashes into the car, and a man named Fleming drags Anderton out of the car. Presenting himself as someone who wants to help Anderton, Fleming provides Anderton with money and a new identity, as well as a tip that he should look into the minority report.

Anderton checks into a hotel and calls Page, who works in the precog room at the police station, asking if he can come in to examine the minority report. Page hesitates but agrees. Later, Anderton returns to the station and listens to the precog tapes, learning that while the majority report predicted he would murder Kaplan, the minority report indicates that he would not do so. Suddenly, Lisa enters the room, warns him that he should leave and offers him a ride in a ship on the roof.

On the ship, Lisa tells Anderton that she believes him to be innocent, and suggests that others in the detention camp may have been in a similar situation. She tries to convince Anderton that Witwer has good intentions, and that he should put the good of the Precrime system above his own fate and turn himself in. When Anderton refuses, Lisa draws a gun to force him to return to the station. Fleming, who was hiding on the ship, knocks the pistol out of Lisa’s hand and begins to strangle her. Anderton stops Fleming by knocking him unconscious, and finds out from his identification that he is an army major working with the Internal Intelligence Department of Military Information. On the basis of this information, Anderton reasons that Fleming must be working for Kaplan, that the break truck crash was a set up, and that Kaplan has been working to keep Anderton out of police custody. Anderton calls Witwer in an effort to protect the precog room, but learns that Kaplan was just there to copy the reports.

Back at the station, Anderton informs Witwer of Kaplan’s plot to discredit the majority report, and thereby invalidate the Precrime system. After studying the precog tapes for clues, Anderton sees out the window that the army is holding a rally, and thinks that Kaplan is going to read the minority report to the public, which would discredit Precrime and make it look flawed. Anderton then decides that he will kill Kaplan in order to save Precrime by making the majority report correct. He reasons that the army will not stop him from approaching Kaplan because they have the minority report, which states that Anderton will not murder Kaplan. At the rally, Anderton murders Kaplan, as the majority report stated.

In the final scene, Anderton prepares to flee the planet with Lisa to an off-world colony. Before leaving, he explains to Witwer that there were three different, consecutive minority reports, each of which previewed a different time-area. The first report saw a discarded time-path in which he decided to murder Kaplan after learning of his plot. The second report responded to the fact that Kaplan would read the precognitive data and decide not to murder Kaplan. The third report incorporated his final decision to murder Kaplan in order to save Precrime. Two of the reports agreed that he would murder Kaplan, giving rise to the illusion of a majority report. In their final exchange, Anderton warns Witwer that he must be vigilant because, as the new Police Commissioner, he could experience a similar predicament.