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!


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
  • 2
    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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