Abstract: The dynamic approach posits that a presupposition
must be satisfied in its local context. But how is a local context
derived from the global one? Extant dynamic analyses must specify in
the lexical entry of any operator what its ‘Context Change Potential’
is, and for this very reason they fail to be sufficiently explanatory.
To circumvent the problem, we revise two assumptions of the dynamic
approach: we take the update process to be derivative from a classical,
non-dynamic semantics—which obviates the need for dynamic lexical
entries; and we deny that a local context encodes what the speech act
participants ‘take for granted.’ Instead, we take the local context of
an expression E in a sentence
S to be the smallest domain
that one may restrict attention to when assessing E without jeopardizing the truth
conditions of S. To match the
results of dynamic semantics, local contexts must be computed
incrementally, using only information about the expressions that
precede E. This version of
the theory can be shown to be nearly equivalent to the dynamic theory
of Heim 1983—but unlike the latter, it is entirely predictive. We also
suggest that local contexts can, at some cost, be computed
symmetrically, taking into account information about all of S (except E); this leads to gradient
predictions, whose assessment is left for future research.