This article is for the PC version of Stellaris only.
An ethos (also called ethics) is considered the sum of all beliefs and ideals that a given group of people have. It is responsible for their favored courses of action and responses to situations. Ethos has a profound effect on options available during the game. For instance, diplomatic options with alien species are affected by Ethos, as are some options for dealing with anomalies. As a result Ethos choices have a greater impact on game experience than the bonuses and maluses listed on this page.
AI species follow the same Ethics rules and their behaviour is heavily dependent on the ethics they follow. Naturally, a Militarist Xenophobe alien species will react very differently to the player than an Extreme Pacifist. AI species will however compromise on their ethics if circumstances are dire enough, for instance if threatened with imminent conquest.
Every empire is limited in the amount of ethos it can possess. In general it's possible to either have three different ethos types or one fanatical ethos and one moderate one.
By default each ethic is neutral which provides no bonuses nor maluses. Each "step" into a given ethos costs one point and will lock/unlock different governments types as well as specific bonuses and possibly maluses. Investing two points into one type results in a more "extreme" version of an ethos that grants further bonuses and potential greater maluses.
Collectivist - Individualist
The collectivist - individualist dichotomy looks at the worth of an individual in a society.
Collectivists consider that an individual should follow and cooperate with the government in order to benefit everyone. In contrast, individualists believe that an individual should be master of their own destiny and pursue their own goals and dreams.
In mechanical terms, collectivists are happy with the idea of slavery, while individualists are not. Collectivists require less Food to grow, while Individualists gain bonuses to Energy production and suffer more ethics divergence, resulting in more factions in mid to late game.
||The purpose of the individual is simple: strengthen the collective. To enter the blackness of space we move as one, and we shall not be weakened by wanton separatism.|
||Society has long since evolved past the insignificant rivalries and concerns of the individuals. We are numerous but one, and the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. We stand truly equal.|
||Community is a means to an end, not the end itself. Only by empowering the individual to reach their maximum potential do we achieve true freedom. Freedom of thought, of speech, of movement, of trade.|
||Through history, too often has the hulking mass of the collective stifled the radiant genius of individuals. No more. Forge your own path, and let new fruits be illuminated by the sparks of clashing ambitions.|
Xenophobe - Xenophile
The xenophobe - xenophile dichotomy looks at the acceptance of foreign species in a society.
Xenophobes consider that different species would introduce foreign ideas and thoughts that could destabilize and, in the end, destroy the empire or, at the very least, its cultural and genetic identity. In contrast, xenophiles believe that society would grow stagnant without different concepts and moralities and are thus considered staunch believers in unity by diversity. Xenophobes are particularly keen on enslaving aliens, though will never accept them as equals.
||We must guard ourselves against the alien elements that would disrupt our society, the influences that would debase our genetic and cultural heritage. The Other is to be held at arm's length, and that arm is to hold a sword.|
||A homogeneous society is a predictable society. A predictable society is a safe society. There is little to be gained by giving excessive attention or care for those who do not belong.|
||There exist, in all of us, a deep-seated fascination of the unknown. An adventurous spirit that rejects the familiar and glories in the unfamiliar, whatever - or whoever - it may be.|
||If there was such a thing as an absolute moral imperative, it would be to explore the cosmos and embrace all within it. We were never meant to journey alone.|
Militarist - Pacifist
The militarist - pacifist dichotomy looks at the merit of war in a society.
Militarists consider that aggression is needed to obtain what is required and wars are thus viewed as glorious. In contrast, pacifists believe that violence breeds hatred and that friendly cooperation between different empires brings forth more long-term benefit than undignified bloodshed.
In mechanical terms, Militarists are rather better at fighting wars, and gain more political Influence from having declaring rivalry. However, they find it much more difficult to make alliances, even with this increased Influence. Pacifists are worse at fighting wars (though there are policy decisions that give benefits to war exhaustion for fighting defensive wars, which may partially mitigate this). Pacifists also get a significant bonus to Food production.
||The ability to project force is at paramount importance. The only way to preserve our way of life is to make everyone share it, willingly or not.|
||The only true values are courage and discipline, and channeled properly they can overcome any obstacle. Therein lies true strength; force withheld, a promise made.|
||Conflict as a mean to an end is a ridiculous concept. It is by nature destructive, destroying what was to be obtained or giving room to grow that which was to be destroyed.|
Materialist - Spiritualist
The materialist - spiritualist dichotomy looks at the nature of the being and reality in general.
Materialists disregard superstition, considering that life has no intrinsic meaning outside their own reality and that the only true purpose is what they make it. In contrast, spiritualists believe that consciousness surpasses reality and that their temporary, mortal bodies, subjected to the cruel and hard reality of the universe, are only a means to improve themselves spiritually in anticipation of their future ascension to higher planes of existence.
Materialists get useful bonuses to all research output, while Spiritualists generally have a happier population.
||Although it hurts, we must grow up and put aside our outdated notions of morality. There is no 'divine spark' granting special value to a living mind. No object has any intrinsic value apart from what we choose to grant it. Let us embrace the freedom of certitude, and achieve maximum efficiency in all things.|
||As we reach for the stars, we must put away childish things: gods, spirits and other phantasms of the brain. Reality is cruel and unforgiving, yet we must protect ourselves and secure the survival of our race through the unflinching pursuit of science and technology.|
||It behooves us to remember how tiny we are, how pointless our lives are in this vast uncaring universe... what nonsense! The only truth we can ever know is that of our own existence. The universe - in all its apparent glory - is but a dream we all happen to share.|
||Our science has proved that consciousness begets reality. We regard with patience the childlike efforts of those who delude themselves as they play with their blocks of 'hard matter'.|