In a recent court case in Darlington, a man was convicted of destroying a door with a machete. He was sentenced to some trifling inconvenience, but the magistrates were careful to order the destruction of the machete; clearly they have identified the real culprit, and have ensured no further offences will be possible.
The same thought processes were embedded in English law up to 1846 in the notion of the deodand, some object that caused a death and was therefore forfeit to the Crown.
The fellow who tripped over his shoelace and destroyed some crockery was quick to blame his shoelace; having just converted Ming vases worth £500,000 to fragments worth £diddly he was probably rather shocked and thinking in an instinctive way.
This thought process is sufficiently old and common to have a name. Does anyone know what it is? (I don't think animism quite covers it.)