As some might have already noticed and I was pretty slow to discover this, some edited volumed available for preview on Google Books sometimes have full essays avaiable for your scholarly interest. May I wholeheartedly recommend this essay by Eckart Förster, “Fichte, Beck and Schelling in Kant’s Opus Postumum” which begins with a nice summary of Kant’s view of science and, specifically, physics? Förster’s contribution to the study of Opus Postumum is well known, of course, and I think in light of the recent discussions of science, realism, so-called correlationism and such, it is important to understand what Kant actually wrote, as opposed to various crude misinterpretations of his philosophy. Kant, as is also well known, began his philosophical career as a philosopher of nature (a philosopher of science would be a good modern designation) and, as Förster, shows in his Introduction to the English edition of Opus Postumum and various essays on the subject, ended his philosophical career working on a manuscript that would complete his system.
I think Förster’s opening citation from the second preface to the first Critique is essential, as far as I am concerned, in any discussion of the workings of science – because I’m lazy, here’s a text from Norman Kemp Smith’s translation available online:
Natural science was very much longer in entering upon the highway of science. It is, indeed, only about a century and a half since Bacon, by his ingenious proposals, partly initiated this discovery, partly inspired fresh vigour in those who were already on the way to it. In this case also the discovery can be explained as being the sudden outcome of an intellectual revolution. In my present remarks I am referring to natural science only in so far as it is founded on empirical principles.
When Galileo caused balls, the weights of which he had himself previously determined, to roll down an inclined plane; when Torricelli made the air carry a weight which he had calculated beforehand to be equal to that of a definite column of water; or in more recent times, when Stahl changed metal into lime, and lime back into metal, by withdrawing something and then restoring it, a light broke upon all students of nature. They learned that reason has insight only into that which it produces after a plan of its own, and that it must not allow itself to be kept, as it were, in nature’s leading-strings, but must itself show the way with principles of judgment based upon fixed laws, constraining nature to give answer to questions of reason’s own determining. Accidental observations, made in obedience to no previously thought-out plan, can never be made to yield a necessary law, which alone reason is concerned to discover.
This is what I always thought to be understood, but I might have been mistaken here – science is not a pile of empirical data, even if this data comes from the most sophisticated equipment, but a theory that allows us to make sense of data…