“Minority Report” explains the need for those in authority to maintain the status quo, especially when they believe in it. Anderton is the police commissioner in charge of Precrime, a unit that makes use of prelaw methodology to nab criminals before they can break the law. The Precrime system makes use of three precog mutants, called Donna, Jerry, and Mike, who predict the names of would-be criminals. These “criminals” are then apprehended and confined in the detention camp before they have the opportunity to carry out the crimes. It is touted that the system has managed to cut down felonies by about 99.8%. When the majority of the precogs predict that Anderton intends to kill General Leopold Kaplan, of the Federated Westbloc Alliance, two forces emerge: the Army, led by General Kaplan, who want to use the minority report to discredit Precrime’s system so that they can get back to the good old days when they would do their own police work, and Precrime, who would like to maintain the status quo. Anderton thus decides to kill General Kaplan, so as to maintain Precrime’s status as the chief criminal investigation unit of the state. The question of choice also arises, as one wonders whether Anderton would have made the choice to kill the General all other factors constant.
The story also explores the concept of individual freedom. When people are detained for their intentions to commit crimes, even when these intentions may not come to life in the long run, individual freedom is curtailed to a large extent.
Philip K. Dick's 1956 story "Minority Report" raises a series of ethical questions: how far should societies take current or future technology when public safety is a factor? Is manipulating the future defensible in some, none, or all, cases? Would declining to manipulate the future, knowing that you could avert a crime or a tragedy, be a crime in and of itself? Dick invites readers to engage in these ethical questions as one of the story's prominent themes. The predicted and actual actions of John Anderton (learning that he will kill Kaplan in the future but choosing to do it anyway to save the Precrime program) are the foundation of the story's set of ethical questions. Another ethical question arises with regard to the treatment of the pre-cogs; is their dehumanization defensible in the interest of public safety because of the service they provide?
One of the themes of "The Minority Report" is that people really don't have free will, or the ability to choose their own fate. John Anderton, the head of Precrime (an organization that stops crimes before they occur through information provided by people who have knowledge about what will happen in the future), hears that he will murder someone who is a stranger to him. While Anderton at first tries to escape, he eventually decides to murder the person who Precrime said he would kill, Leopold Kaplan, as Kaplan plans to destroy Precrime. After trying to escape the fate that Precrime has decreed and even after discovering that one of the three members of Precrime does not at first think he will murder Kaplan (this third person is the source of the so-called "minority report"), Anderton fulfills their prediction to save Precrime. Therefore, his fate is what the Precrime unit has decreed for him, and all his efforts lead only to what they have predicted is his destiny. It is impossible for him to exercise free will in ultimately changing his fate.
The central theme in "Minority Report" by Philip K. Dick is that of authoritarianism versus personal autonomy. The entire idea of the Precrime Division is one of total authority. It has the final say in the future of the citizens under its purview. Even the argument that the existence of the minority reports means that some crimes may have not been committed is waved away. Its power must remain absolute.
Philip K. Dick explored this conflict through the character of John Anderton. Anderton is given a choice to not commit the murder of Leonard Kaplan. This is the choice of personal autonomy. However, he chooses to pull the trigger so that Precrime's authority will remain absolute. Dick does not shy away from the disturbing implications in this: within authoritative states, citizens will commit actions that go against their personal choice just to keep the state functioning.