Either way, that's not what we mean by self-interest. By 'being self-interested' we mean to say that one simply isn't literally selfless, which I argued in the OP is non-sense anyway. So, Leonid
, when you say, "Self-interested unselfish behavior is simply [a] contradiction in terms," you are defining these terms differently than I. Using your definition, it appears the statement Is Selfishness Compatible with Kindness?
is a clear yes, since you are defining 'selfishness' as merely 'self-interest' as opposed to (what I believe is) it's by far more common definition. By what I believe are the far more common definitions:
Everyone is acting out self-interest, and nobody is selfless. This is because -- I argue -- everybody tries to get what they want to happen to happen. In other words, I argue that it's nonsense to say someone wants what he/she doesn't want.
Many people are kind, charitable, compassionate, courteous, and generous not just because they think it is "morally right/good" whatever that would mean and not because they think it is religiously commanded but because most people -- i.e. everyone who isn't a literal psychopath/sociopath -- has empathy which often leads to sympathy which is the self-interested source of kind, charitable, compassionate, courteous, and generous intentions and behavior. This is what I believe by a large margin is what is meant by unselfishness, which does exist and is in this more common definition different than literal selflessness since it is among other things a facet of self-interest.
In the more common definition, selfishness refers not merely to people who are self-interested, particularly since even unselfish people are self-interested as shown in the paragraph above. Rather, selfishness refers specifically to people who are the opposite of kind, charitable, compassionate, courteous, and generous. It isn't as absolute as the concept of psychopathy, which refers to an absence of empathy all-together, and it doesn't necessarily require sadism, which is one with empathy but who oddly takes pleasure in other people's pain and displeasure in their happiness rather than vice versa, which is very parallel to masochism in that way of twisting the reception of pain and pleasure versus happiness and unhappiness. Rather selfish people might simply be those who fall anywhere on the spectrum between complete psychopathy/sadism and the kindest most empathetic person in the world that is significantly below the average distance from the former. That means it's relative, like being short or being tall or being dark-skinned or having long hair. In other words, in the common definition, a 'selfish person' is a person who is significantly more unkind, uncharitable, greedy, discourteous, and/or miserly than the average person -- particularly when we are theoretically measuring by one's intentions regardless of believed morality and religion since we might still consider a person selfish if he gives to charity only because he believes it will buy him a ticket to heaven or believe it is "morally good" whatever that means but would be a stingy mean miser who wouldn't save a child drowning because he doesn't want his shoes to get wet if only he didn't think it was against his religion or "moral code". In this more common definition of selfish, selfishness is clearly not compatible with kindness by definition. However, I believe self-proclaimed pro-selfishness philosophers like Rand and maybe you Leonid are not using 'selfishness' in the common definition, but rather are using it to just mean the broader idea of self-interest which is compatible with kindness.
So to reiterate. In what I believe are by far the common definitions: All people are inherently self-interested. Some people are unselfish, and some people are selfish. And selfishness is not compatible with kindness. Of course, the line between selfish (unkind, greedy, etc.) and unselfish (kind, charitable) is relative to some average or benchmark much like the line between short/tall, tan/pale, skinny/fat, ugly/beautiful, long-haired/short-haired. However, in contrast, what pro-selfishness philosophers call 'selfishness' is compatible with kindness.
A rose by any other name smells just as sweet, and though they each seem to use a term in odd way, it seems what self-proclaimed pro-"selfishness" philosophers idiosyncratically call "selfishness" is compatible with what self-proclaimed pro-"selflessness" philosophers idiosyncratically call "selflessness" in that everyone is self-interested but not all are greedy/miserly/unsympathetic and that self-interest is compatible with kindness/charitablity/sympathy. Rand and Comte don't disagree!