David Olivier

David Olivier (born 11 March 1956) is a French and British philosopher and antispeciesist activist. He is founder of the French journal Cahiers antispécistes ("Antispeciesist Notebooks"), the annual event Veggie Pride and of the annual meeting Les Estivales de la question animale ("The Summers of the Animal Question"). Olivier is also the creator of the term "veggiephobia" and of numerous articles and conferences. He is an advocate of utilitarian and antinatauralist ethics, and defines himself politically as a progressive.

David Olivier
Born (1956-03-11) 11 March 1956
London, England
NationalityFrench and British
Occupation(s)Antispeciesist activist, philosopher

Early life

David Olivier was born in London on 11 March 1956, to a French-teaching father and an American mother who was a painter.[1] From childhood, he objected to the killing of animals for consumption.[2] In adolescence, he was drawn to ecology, then to anarchism, devoting himself to anti-sexist and anti-racist activism. In Lyon, he was an activist for the French family planning and gay liberation movements. His focus on the importance of the "animal question" grew from the mid-1980s, as he moved away from anarchist and Marxist intellectual influences.[1]

Antispeciesist activism

Author of a leaflet initially distributed in Lyonnais libertarian circles from 1985, Olivier is considered one of the founding figures of the French antispeciesist movement.[3][4] His meeting with Yves Bonnardel in 1986, made him aware of the existence of an active animal liberation movement in the English-speaking world. With Bonnardel, Françoise Blanchon, also present in Lyon squat circles, and two other activists, he produced the pamphlet Nous ne mangeons pas de viande pour ne pas tuer d'animaux ("We don't eat meat so we don't kill animals"). Being bilingual, Olivier was able to create some of the first translations of Peter Singer's works into French; introducing Singer to his fellow activists.[4]

The concept of focusing the fight for animal rights around the ethical concept of antispeciesism lead Olivier, in 1989, soon joined by Françoise Blanchon and Yves Bonnardel, to found the journal Cahiers antispécistes. The journal remained, for a long period, the essential media supporting the antispeciesist movement in France. Oliver himself authored many of the journal's articles, in addition to creating French translations of the texts of Peter Singer, Tom Regan, Paola Cavalieri, James Rachels and Steve F. Sapontzis. He and the other co-founders of the journal were a decisive influence on Sébastien Arsac and Brigitte Gothière, future founders of the animal protection organization L214.[5][6] Olivier left the editorial staff of Cahiers antispécistes in 2004, after the publication of issue 23.

In October 2001, in a bid to increase recognition of the refusal to eat animals, Olivier founded the first Veggie Pride in Paris, defining in his manifesto,[7] the term "veggiephobia".[8] Veggie Pride was intended to bring together people expressing their pride in refusing to eat animals (vegetarians and vegans) and denouncing the discrimination they feel they suffering their social life (community food for example) or in defense of their ideas.[4][9] The event was exported to several French, European and North American cities, and organized its 18th Parisian event in 2018.[10]

In 2002, Olivier organized the first meeting of Les Estivales de la question animal, an annual meeting of debate and reflection around the "animal question".[11] This gathering of association leaders and theoreticians of the French-speaking animalist movement lead to the launch of the organization L214,[12] the movement towards the legal abolition of meat[13] and the creation of the French Animalist Party.[14][15]

The publication of The Antispeciesist Revolution,[16] by Presses Universitaires de France, containing for one third, a collection of Olivier's articles, met with relative media success.[17][18] Renan Larue, as well as the critic Thierry Jacquet, consider the book's publication to be symbolic, by doing justice to the work of the editors of Cahiers antispécistes and granting the "animal question" the seriousness it deserves.[17]


Olivier opposes speciesism, which he defines in these terms: "Speciesism is to species as racism is to race and sexism is to sex: a discrimination based upon species, nearly always in favour of the members of the human species, Homo sapiens."[19] He also contends that "species" do not exist and asserts that the concept is irrevocably essentialist and should be ontologically discarded in the same way that race has been for humans.[17]

A utilitarian,[20] Olivier considers that "the sole relevant criterion for taking into account the interests of a being is its being sentient and thus having interests",[19] that is to say that they have feelings.[21] For him, ethics is the science of the right answer to the question "what to do?", and therefore the consideration of the consequences of the actions envisaged from the point of view of sentient beings potentially affected. Olivier is also a hedonistic utilitarian. That is to say, he considers "it is these sensations, and they alone, which have a moral value, positive for happiness, negative for unhappiness; this value is independent of any other characteristic of the being that experiences them".[22] The just act is therefore, according to him, that which puts the world in the best possible state, that is to say, the state in which sentient beings experience the most happiness and the least unhappiness.[22]

Olivier is an antinaturalist, in that he considers nature not to exist,[23] and that it has no reason to affect our ethical decisions. He also argues that the naturalization of animals is one of the determining factors of their domination.[19] Olivier's antinaturalism is associated with his defense of interventions in favour of reducing wild animal suffering,[24] and his rejection of environmentalism.[25] His views have led him to be cited on numerous occasions in the works and forums of critics of antispeciesism.[24][26]

Olivier defines himself as progressive, in that he considers significant progress in the state of the world to be possible, but does not describe himself as a revolutionary because he does not believe that such progress can be made in a "great evening".[27]

See also

Selected publications

Articles published in books

In Luc Ferry ou le rétablissement de l'ordre (tahin party ed., 2002):

  • "Luc Ferry or restoration of order," (Cahiers antispécistes, no. 5, December 1992); Italian translation published in Etica & Animali a.VI, no. 1–2, 1993.
  • "Strange Drive" (Cahiers antispécistes, no. 10, September 1994).

In Espèces et Éthique - Darwin: une (r)évolution à venir (ed. Tahin party, 2001):

  • "Nature does not choose" (Cahiers antispécistes, no. 14, December 1996).
  • "The species either do not exist" (Cahiers antispécistes, no. 11, December 1994).
  • "Richard Dawkins' Selfless Selfishness" (original article).

In La Révolution antispéciste (ed. PUF, 2018):

  • "What is speciesism?" (Informations et Réflexions libertaires, April 1991 and Cahiers antispécistes, no. 5, December 1992).
  • "Towards a non-naturalist ecology? "(Cahiers antispécistes, no. 17, December 1999).
  • "The species either do not exist" (Cahiers antispécistes, no. 11, December 1994).
  • "On superiority" (original article).



  1. "Qui je suis" [Who I Am]. david.olivier.name (in French). Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  2. Olivier, David (22 October 2015). "Refonder le progressisme". Veganes Magazine (Interview). Interviewed by Martin Gibert. Archived from the original on 21 August 2017.
  3. Dubreuil, Catherine-Marie (2009). "L'antispécisme, un mouvement de libération animale" [Antispeciesism, an Animal Liberation Movement]. Ethnologie Française (in French). 39: 117–122. doi:10.3917/ethn.091.0117 via Cairn.info.
  4. Carrié, Fabien (12 April 2018). "Politicizing Activist Discontent: A Social History of "Vegephobia" in the French Animal Rights Movement". Biens Symboliques. 2.
  5. Del Amo, Jean-Baptiste; Gothière, Brigitte (2017). L214: une voix pour les animaux (in French). Arthaud. p. 37. ISBN 978-2-08-139548-0. OCLC 1005974687.
  6. Mestre, Damien (20 July 2018). "Brigitte Gothière, L214 : "Il faut refaire le lien entre la viande et les animaux"" [Brigitte Gothière, L214: "We must redo the link between meat and animals"]. Socialter (in French). Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  7. "Histoire et manifeste" [History and manifesto]. Veggie Pride (in French). Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  8. Olivier, David (20 June 2013). "La végéphobie est partie intégrante de l'oppression des animaux" [Veggiephobia is an integral part of animal oppression]. Le Courrier (in French). Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  9. "La première "Veggie Pride" a réuni entre 300 et 400 personnes à Genève" [The first "Veggie Pride" brought together between 300 and 400 people in Geneva]. Radio Télévision Suisse (in French). 18 May 2013. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  10. Arnaud, Jean-François (21 September 2018). ""La Veggie Pride de Paris est un festival familial et pacifique"" ["The Veggie Pride of Paris is a family and peaceful festival"]. Challenges (in French). Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  11. "Éditions précédentes" [Previous editions]. Estivales de la question animale (in French). 28 February 2013. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  12. "Les Estivales 2007" [The Summer 2007]. Estivales de la question animale (in French). 28 February 2013. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  13. Comiti, Antoine; Reus, Estiva (1 May 2016). "Meat Abolition". Les Cahiers antispécistes. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  14. "Municipales, européennes, parlementaires, présidentielles: comment faire une place aux animaux dans la Politique?" [Municipal, European, parliamentary, presidential: how to make room for animals in politics?]. Estivales de la question animale (in French). Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  15. "Tout savoir sur le Parti Animaliste" [All About the Animalist Party]. CNews (in French). 6 December 2017. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  16. Bonnardel, Yves; Lepeltier, Thomas; Sigler, Pierre; Larue, Renan; Olivier, David (2018). La révolution antispéciste (in French). Paris: PUF. ISBN 978-2-13-079909-2. OCLC 1026490292.
  17. Jacquet, Thierry (6 April 2018). "L'antispécisme à la loupe" [Antispeciesism under the microscope]. Le Temps (in French). ISSN 1423-3967. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  18. Latour, Bruno (1 March 2018). "Qui a la parole ? Anti- ou multi- spécistes ?" [Who's speaking ? Anti- or multispecies?]. Le Monde (in French). Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  19. Olivier, David (5 December 1992). "What Is Speciesism?". Les Cahiers antispécistes. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  20. Jeangène Vilmer, Jean-Baptiste (2008). Éthique animale [Animal Ethics] (in French). Paris: Presses universitaires de France. pp. 101–102. ISBN 978-2-13-056242-9. OCLC 300192967.
  21. Olivier, David (1 December 2003). "The Subjective is Objective – Taking Sentiency Seriously". Les Cahiers antispécistes. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  22. Olivier, David (7 January 1992). "En défense de l'utilitarisme" [In defense of utilitarianism]. Les Cahiers antispécistes (in French). Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  23. Olivier, David. "La nature n'existe pas..." [Nature does not exist...]. david.olivier.name (in French). Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  24. Sugy, Paul (1 November 2018). "Derrière le militantisme végan, la puissante idéologie antispéciste" [Behind vegan activism, the powerful anti-speciesist ideology]. Le Figaro (in French). Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  25. Olivier, David (1 June 1993). "Pourquoi je ne suis pas écologiste" [Why I am not an environmentalist]. Les Cahiers antispécistes (in French). Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  26. Fabry, Philippe (31 October 2018). "Antispécisme, l'hérésie cathare au temps des grands abattoirs" [Antispeciesism, the Cathar heresy at the time of the big slaughterhouses]. Causeur (in French). Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  27. Olivier, David. "Refonder le progressisme" [Rebuilding progressivism]. david.olivier.name (in French). Retrieved 11 April 2020.
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