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In Stellaris government ethos works on four scales:

  • Pacifist-Militarist
  • Authoritarian - Egalitarian
  • Xenophobe - Xenophile
  • Materialist - Spiritualist

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At any stage empire can have only three ethics or one fanatical and one regular (i.e. you can be Pacifist-Egalitarian-Spiritualist* or Militarist-fanatical Xenophile**)

But you can change the ethos in game, either by rare and special events ("Shrines of the Old Gods" for example can make you more spiritual) or by embracing a faction within your empire (embracing pacifists would make you go towards "fanatical pacifist" for example)

But how is it determined which of the ethics you would loose? If I am xenophobe-pacifist-materialist and now want to go somewhere in the egalitarian-authoritarian scale, which ethic will I lose? Is it a random one or is there a specific rule?

*AKA "Space Hippies"

** They will love you, whether you want it or not! And they will make you love them!

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You lose the ethos with the least population support. Or the opposing one if you have, for example, pacifist and are going to embrace militarist.

Here is a dev diary about it: https://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/index.php?threads/stellaris-dev-diary-61-indoctrination-unrest-and-faction-interactions.999954/

In particular: "Which ethic is lost or added is determined by attraction, so if you are Spiritualist, Xenophobe and Authoritarian and make a shift towards Militarist, whichever of Spiritualist, Xenophobe and Authoritarian has the lowest attraction in your empire will be lost as a Governing Ethic."

  • Good find. Deleting my answer. – tjd Aug 25 '17 at 12:19
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    Just a note from something that I've noticed yesterday: If you are embracing new ehtos and you have one fanatical one already, you will loose the fanatical one instead of one with the least population support. – Yasskier Aug 28 '17 at 20:34

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