Critics have disputed Rand's interpretation of the term. Libertarian feminist writer Sharon Presley described Rand's use of 'selfishness' as "perversely idiosyncratic" and contrary to the dictionary meaning of the term, Rand's claims to the contrary notwithstanding. Presley believes the use of the term has caused Rand's arguments to be frequently mischaracterized.  Philosophy professor Max Hocutt dismissed the phrase 'the virtue of selfishness' as "rhetorical excess", saying that "without qualification and explanation, it is too paradoxical to merit serious discussion".  In contrast, philosophers Douglas J. Den Uyl and Douglas B. Rasmussen described Rand's response to the question of why she uses the term as "neither antagonistic nor defensive, but rather profound."  Philosopher Chris Matthew Sciabarra said it is "debatable" whether Rand accurately described the meaning of the term, but argued that Rand's philosophical position required altering the conventional meanings of some terms in order to express her views without inventing entirely new words.  Philosophy professor Stephen Hicks wrote in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy that Rand's "provocative title" was matched by "an equally provocative thesis about ethics". 
Moral justifications for violence make so little sense as ruses that we have to assume they’re at least somewhat sincere. That’s an uncomfortable thought. If we accept that dangerous people might be motivated by genuine moral beliefs, we confront a troublingly subjective dimension to morality as such. At the very least, we must face the possibility that one can be sincerely wrong about it. And once you go that far, it’s a short leap to thinking maybe we’re the ones who are wrong, or that there’s nothing to be right about in the first place.