Jim: "Thanks for saving my life, good friend, I almost drowned out there."
Bob: "Don't mention it. I did it for myself. After all, my life would suck if you weren't in it, and there's that matter of the 1,000 dollars you owe me. It wouldn't be beneficial for me to lose out on that. So, you're welcome, friend."
Who out there, if you were in Jim's shoes, would think this act of Bob's was a good, moral, and altruistic act? Not many, I'd wager.
But, don't those adhering to ethical egoism say that they can account for "altruism?" That helping and saving others is actually good, for them? That their system doesn't do away with our moral responsibility to help others, for the sake of helping others?
But, isn't this a trick? Doesn't this, in fact, fail to distinguish between pseudo and genuine altruism? The latter has, as its goal, purpose, and intrinsic value, the benefit of another irrespective of benefit to one's self? (And, as an aside, that there may be personal payoffs and side effects does not logically entail that the moral action was done for egoistic reasons as its basis. Sure it is nice to have your friend around and to collect on the 1,000, but an altruistic act is done solely for the sake of the other; even though there might very well be side effects and outcomes that are good for you, personally.)
Many atheists, especially Randroids (followers of the Rand Cult (as dubbed by an atheist, mind you)), adhere to ethical egoism. And, they frequently try to justify "altruistic" acts within their system; try to make them fit; try to make sense of them. But above I've pointed out that the cost is to defend pseudo altruism over against genuine altruism. And, the argument from side effects does not imply ethical egoism. Indeed, most of us, including Jim, might rightly look down on Bob's actions. Altruistic acts, done on and for egoism's premises, are morally repugnant acts.