This was cited in something I read last week and I thought it was worth making it easy for me to re-find. There are plenty of philosophers, including Aristotle, who talk about the difference between the way we treat animate and inanimate objects, but none put it so eloquently as Chuang Tzu.
If a man is crossing a river
And an empty boat collides with his own skiff,
Even though he be a bad-tempered man
He will not become very angry.
But if he sees a man in the boat,
He will shout at him to steer clear.
If the shout is not heard, he will shout again,
And yet again, and begin cursing.
And all because there is somebody in the boat.
Yet if the boat were empty.
He would not be shouting, and not angry.