It aims to solve their problems according to a depersonalised conception of fairness.
Or, when friends can no longer "hold things in common", as one Greek saying defined friendship, they ask the courts to divide their possessions and rule over them.
In a democracy, however, justice is an absolute good: it must be done and be seen to be done.
Again, therefore, democracy can nurture a suspicion of friendship, thinking that it is a way of doing things characterised by questionable commitments and opaque affections, not the transparent, transcendent fairness of justice.
In short, friendship puts the humaneness of abstract democratic ideals on the spot.
One obvious point of tension is between the egalitarian principles of democracy and the individual partiality of friendship.It is fine in private but deeply suspect if and when it is seen to play a part in public life.Then politicians are accused of nepotism, which in a way is counterproductive since so-called "cronies" are likely to give much to public life by virtue of their loyalty.Might this not suggest a reason why increasingly affluent democracies become increasingly unhappy places to live?True, egalitarianism, justice and economics-driven problem-solving are hugely valuable and underpin a very many great goods.Thus, for Aristotle, rectificatory justice is a pragmatic good, since people will always fall out.But it is not an absolute good, because if all people lived well, justice would simply be a common character trait implicit in friendship.For Aristotle, justice could be thought of as "failed friendship".It is when individuals cannot resolve their differences amicably - note: amicably - that they turn to the law.And friendship, without which the good life is simply impossible according to Aristotle, suffers.For ancient philosophers friendship was a political problem too.