What is the context of this quotation? Why was it said? “Happily, they don’t  - because we get to them first, before they can commit an act of violence. So the commission of the crime itself...

What is the context of this quotation? Why was it said?

“Happily, they don’t  - because we get to them first, before they can commit an act of violence. So the commission of the crime itself is absolute metaphysics. We can claim they are culpable. They, on the other hand, can eternally claim they’re innocent. And, in a sense, they are innocent.”

Expert Answers
Jessica Pope eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This statement was made by John Anderton, the creator of precrime technology. He was responding to an ethical issue brought up to him by a precrime police officer: how can you justify apprehending and punishing a person who has not broken any law?

Here, Anderston responds by admitting this fact, arguing that this fact -- of apprehending and punishing those who have broken no law -- is the entire positive benefit of precrime technology. 

The key is that the would-be perpetrator gets to maintain his innocence. Anderton is arguing that apprehending people before they commit crimes is essentially doing them a favor: preventing them from incurring the ethical consequences (i.e. guilt, "bad karma") of committing unlawful acts. In this way of seeing things, precrime not only protects society and would be victims, but also protects would be perpetrator (from themselves) as well. 

Read the study guide:
The Minority Report

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